The prevalence of diabetic nephropathy is greater in nonwhite patients with type II diabetes, including the Chinese, and genetic variation appears to have a role. We examined angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) DD/II and angiotensinogen (Atg) M235T polymorphism in a cohort of Chinese patients with type II diabetes with an average duration of diabetes of 14 years. Group A (n = 88) did not have significant diabetic nephropathy (creatinine levels </= 130 micromol/L [</=1.48 mg/L], without macroalbuminuria), and group B (n = 80) had significant diabetic nephropathy (macroalbuminuria or creatinine level >130 micromol/L [>1.48 mg/d], and those undergoing dialysis). The two groups were matched in different aspects, including age, duration of diabetes, blood pressure, and glycemic control. The results showed: (1) no difference of genotype distribution between groups A and B (DD:DI:II, 14%:45%:41% v 8%:38%:54%; P = 0.20; TT:TM/MM, 70%:30% v 76%:24%; P = 0.43), (2) no evidence of synergistic effect of ACE (DD/II) and Atg M235T gene polymorphisms, (3) no difference of allele frequencies between groups A and B (D:I, 36%:64% v 27%:73%; P = 0.20 and T:M, 86%:16% v 86%:14%; P = 0.73), and (4) ACE activity was greatest in patients with DD genotype and least in those with II genotype (DD:DI:II = 66. 9 +/- 13.3 U/L:61.5 +/- 19.9 U/L:45.0 +/- 17.0 U/L; P < 0.005). The data do not support a role of ACE (DD/II) or Atg M235T polymorphism in the development of diabetic nephropathy in Chinese patients with type II diabetes, and no synergistic effect was found between them. Greater ACE activity was associated with DD genotype, and its role in diabetic nephropathy remains to be elucidated.