Why sympathetic activity rises in neurogenic hypertension remains unknown. It has been postulated that changes in the electrical excitability of medullary pre-sympathetic neurones are the main causal mechanism for the development of sympathetic overactivity in experimental hypertension. Here we review recent data suggesting that enhanced sympathetic activity in neurogenic hypertension is, at least in part, dependent on alterations in the electrical excitability of medullary respiratory neurones and their central modulation of sympatho-excitatory networks. We also present results showing a critical role for carotid body tonicity in the aetiology of enhanced central respiratory modulation of sympathetic activity in neurogenic hypertension. We propose a novel hypothesis of respiratory neurone channelopathy induced by carotid body overactivity in neurogenic hypertension that may contribute to sympathetic excess. Moreover, our data support the notion of targeting the carotid body as a potential novel therapeutic approach for reducing sympathetic vasomotor tone in neurogenic hypertension.