The aim of the study was to assess the effects of chronic angiotensin I receptor blockade on blood pressure, the renin-angiotensin system in plasma and kidney and the extent of renal damage in spontaneously hypertensive rats of the stroke prone strain (SHRsp). Four months old male SHRsp rats were orally treated with a high (10 mg/kg b.w. per day) or a low dose (1 mg/kg b.w. per day) of the AT1 receptor antagonist Telmisartan and compared to Losartan- (20 mg/kg b.w. per day), Captopril-treated (50 mg/kg b.w. per day) or untreated control groups for 38 days. Despite a similar extent of blood pressure reduction in all groups (except low dose Telmisartan), high dose Telmisartan but not Losartan or Captopril significantly reduced left ventricular weight by 24% compared to controls (p<0.05). Renal damage as assessed by urinary albumin or glomerulosclerosis index was significantly reduced in all treatment groups (p<0.02). Plasma renin concentration was significantly elevated (p<0.02) and plasma angiotensinogen significantly lowered (p<0.05) in all pharmacologically treated group compared to controls. In the kidney, renin-mRNA as well as AT1 receptor gene expression were elevated in all treatment groups, but no significant changes were found for renal angiotensinogen-mRNA. Chronic oral treatment of genetically hypertensive rats by the AT1 receptor antagonist Telmisartan reveals a blood pressure lowering and reno-protective effect of this drug comparable to other AT1 receptor antagonists or converting enzyme inhibitors, and demonstrates a marked reduction of cardiac hypertrophy by Telmisartan in this model.