The effects of angiotensin II (AII) blockade were compared with the effects of angiotensin converting enzyme inhibition in rats with reduced nephron number. Rats were subjected to five-sixths renal ablation and divided into four groups with similar values for blood pressure and serum creatinine after 2 wk. Group 1 then served as untreated controls, while group 2 received the AII receptor antagonist MK954 (which has previously been designated DuP753), group 3 received the converting enzyme inhibitor enalapril, and group 4 received a combination of reserpine, hydralazine, and hydrochlorothiazide. Micropuncture and morphologic studies were performed 10 wk later. Converting enzyme inhibition, AII receptor blockade, and the combination regimen were equally effective in reversing systemic hypertension (time-averaged systolic blood pressure: group 1, 185 +/- 5 mmHg; group 2, 125 +/- 2 mmHg; group 3, 127 +/- 2 mmHg; group 4, 117 +/- 4 mmHg). Micropuncture studies showed that glomerular transcapillary pressure was reduced significantly by converting enzyme inhibition and by AII blockade but not by the combination regimen (delta P: group 1, 49 +/- 1 mmHg; group 2, 42 +/- 1 mmHg; group 3, 40 +/- 2 mmHg, group 4, 47 +/- 1 mmHg). Reduction of systemic blood pressure was associated with the development of markedly less proteinuria and segmental glomerular sclerosis in rats receiving enalapril and MK954 but not in rats receiving the combination regimen (prevalence of glomerular sclerotic lesions: group 1, 41 +/- 4%; group 2, 9 +/- 1%; group 3, 9 +/- 1%; group 4, 33 +/- 6%). These results indicate that the effects of converting enzyme inhibition on remnant glomerular function and structure depend on reduction in AII activity and are not attributable simply to normalization of systemic blood pressure.