1. The effect of acute inhibition of angiotensin-converting enzyme by captopril (50 mg) on renal haemodynamics and function was assessed in nine patients with essential hypertension on unrestricted sodium intake (n = 8) or low sodium diet (n = 1).
2. Captopril induced a rapid and significant decrease in arterial pressure, which was maximal within 60 min.
3. Effective renal plasma flow (ERPF) increased, glomerular filtration rate (GFR) did not change and filtration fraction (FF) decreased after captopril. No change in sodium excretion and a decrease in urinary potassium occurred.
4. In the patient on low sodium diet, captopril induced striking increases in GFR and ERPF (64 and 106% respectively).
5. The logarithm of baseline plasma renin activity was positively correlated with the change in ERPF and negatively correlated with changes in FF and renal resistance.
6. The results indicate that in patients with essential hypertension angiotensin participates actvely in the maintenance of renal vascular tone at the efferent arteriolar level. A possible influence of kinins remains to be defined.