Key points A functional coupling between extrasynaptic NMDA receptors (eNMDARs) and the A‐type K+ current (IA) influences homeostatic firing responses of magnocellular neurosecretory cells (MNCs) to a physiological challenge. However, whether an altered eNMDAR–IA coupling also contributes to exacerbated MNC activity and neurohumoral activation during disease states is unknown. We show that activation of eNMDARs by exogenously applied NMDA inhibited IA in MNCs obtained from sham, but not in MNCs from renovascular hypertensive (RVH) rats. Neither the magnitude of the exogenously evoked NMDA current nor the expression of NMDAR subunits were altered in RVH rats. Conversely, we found that a larger endogenous glutamate tone, which was not due to blunted glutamate transport activity, led to the sustained activation of eNMDARs that tonically inhibited IA, contributing in turn to higher firing activity in RVH rats. Our studies show that exacerbated activation of eNMDARs by endogenous glutamate contributes to tonic inhibition of IA and enhanced MNC excitability in RVH rats. Abstract We recently showed that a functional coupling between extrasynaptic NMDA receptors (eNMDARs) and the A‐type K+ current (IA) influences the firing activity of hypothalamic magnocellular neurosecretory neurons (MNCs), as well as homeostatic adaptive responses to a physiological challenge. Here, we aimed to determine whether changes in the eNMDAR–IA coupling also contributed to exacerbated MNC activity during disease states. We used a combination of patch‐clamp electrophysiology and real‐time PCR in MNCs in sham and renovascular hypertensive (RVH) rats. Activation of eNMDARs by exogenously applied NMDA inhibited IA in sham rats, but this effect was largely blunted in RVH rats. The blunted response was not due to changes in eNMDAR expression and/or function, since neither NMDA current magnitude or reversal potential, nor the levels of NR1‐NR2A–D subunit expression were altered in RVH rats. Conversely, we found a larger endogenous glutamate tone, resulting in the sustained activation of eNMDARs that tonically inhibited IA and contributed also to higher ongoing firing activity in RVH rats. The enhanced endogenous glutamate tone in RVH rats was not due to blunted glutamate transporter activity. Rather, a higher transporter activity was observed, which possibly acted as a compensatory mechanism in the face of the elevated endogenous tone. In summary, our studies indicate that an elevated endogenous glutamate tone results in an exacerbated activation of eNMDARs, which in turn contributes to diminished IA magnitude and increased firing activity of MNCs from hypertensive rats.