We recently described that a treatment with the angiotensin AT1 receptor antagonist irbesartan inhibits atherosclerotic lesion development, macrophage accumulation, and monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1) as well as the chemokine KC expression in apolipoprotein E-deficient (apoE-deficient) mice. The present study addresses whether these and other chemokines are expressed not only during the initiation but also during the development of atherosclerotic lesions and whether irbesartan can inhibit the expression of these chemokines during lesion progression. The time course of lesion development was assessed in apoE-deficient mice aged 1 to 9 months and the relative expression of chemokines was quantified by RT-PCR. Significant lesion formation already appeared in 3-month-old apoE-deficient mice, and progressed further to the age of 9 months. The expression of MCP-1 and KC (the mouse homologue of Groalpha), was induced at 1 month in apoE-deficient as compared with wild type (C57/Bl6) mice, and was observed before any detectable histologic changes. MCP-1 and KC expression remained high during lesion progression. The expression of macrophage inflammatory protein-2 (MIP-2, the mouse Grobeta/gamma homologue) and macrophage inflammatory protein-1alpha (MIP-1alpha) was increased in lesions from 4-month-old mice onward, whereas Regulated upon Activation of Normal T-cells Expressed and Secreted (RANTES) was significantly induced in 6- to 9-month-old mice only. Irbesartan (50 mg/kg/d) administered from the age of 3 months onward significantly reduced the progression of the lesions as well as the expression of the chemokines. A short-term treatment with irbesartan significantly inhibited the expression of MCP-1 and KC, suggesting that activation of the renin-angiotensin system is involved in up-regulation of these chemokines and that this effect represents a potential mechanism by which irbesartan inhibits plaque development and progression.