The effects of the angiotensin-converting-enzyme inhibitor (ACEI) ramiprilat, the angiotensin II type 1 receptor antagonist (AT(1)A) candesartan, and the combination of both drugs on infarct size (IS) resulting from regional myocardial ischaemia were studied in pigs. Both ACEI and AT(1)A reduce myocardial IS by a bradykinin-mediated process. It is unclear, however, whether the combination of ACEI and AT(1)A produces a more pronounced IS reduction than each of these drugs alone. Forty-six enflurane-anaesthetized pigs underwent 90 min low-flow ischaemia and 120 min reperfusion. Systemic haemodynamics (micromanometer), subendocardial blood flow (ENDO, microspheres) and IS (TTC-staining) were determined. The decreases in left ventricular peak pressure by ACEI (by 9+/-2 (s.e. mean) mmHg), AT(1)A (by 11+/-2 mmHg) or their combination (by 18+/-3 mmHg, P<0.05 vs ACEI and AT(1)A, respectively) were readjusted by aortic constriction prior to ischaemia. With placebo (n=10), IS averaged 20.0+/-3.3% of the area at risk. IS was reduced to 9.8+/-2.6% with ramiprilat (n=10) and 10.6+/-3.1% with candesartan (n=10). Combined ramiprilat and candesartan (n=10) reduced IS to 6.7+/-2.1%. Blockade of the bradykinin-B(2)-receptor with icatibant prior to ACEI and AT(1)A completely abolished the reduction of IS (n=6, 22.8+/-6.1%). The relationship between IS and ischaemic ENDO with placebo was shifted downwards by each ACEI and AT(1)A and further shifted downwards with their combination (P<0.05 vs all groups); icatibant again abolished such downward shift. The combination of ACEI and AT(1)A enhances the reduction of IS following ischaemia/reperfusion compared to a monotherapy by either drug alone; this effect is mediated by bradykinin.