Advanced glycosylation endproduct (AGE) formation has been implicated in the development and progression of nephropathy in type 2 diabetes mellitus. In diabetic animals, aminoguanidine inhibits AGE-mediated cross-linking of proteins in vascular and renal tissue and slows the progression of renal disease. ACTION II is a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial comparing two dose levels of aminoguanidine with placebo on the progression of nephropathy in 599 type 2 diabetic patients with renal disease from 84 centers in the United States and Canada. The primary endpoint is time to doubling of serum creatinine concentration. Secondary endpoints include the effect of aminoguanidine on time to all-cause mortality, end-stage renal disease (ESRD), cardiovascular morbidity and mortality, rate of change in indices of renal function (iothalamate, Cockcroft and Gault [C&G] calculated creatinine and measured creatinine clearances), proteinuria, retinopathy, circulating and urinary AGE levels, and estimation of the relationship between plasma aminoguanidine concentrations and primary and secondary efficacy endpoints and adverse events. Progression of macrovascular disease was monitored and fundus photography performed. Type 2 diabetic patients aged 30 to 70 years were eligible for the trial if their blood pressure was < or =180 mm Hg systolic and < or =120 mm Hg diastolic, serum creatinine concentration > or =1.0 mg/dL (in women) or > or =1.2 mg/dL (in men), C&G clearance > or =40 mL/min, and proteinuria > or =500 mg/d with diabetic retinopathy or diabetic nephropathy on renal biopsy. Recruitment began in July 1995 and terminated in December 1996. The trial randomized a total of 599 subjects. At baseline, the mean (standard deviation [SD]) age was 58 (7.7) years, diabetes duration 16.5 (7.5) years, body mass index 32 kg/m2 (10-90% range 2642), arterial blood pressure 105 (12) mm Hg, C-peptide concentration 2.55 (1.71) ng/mL, serum glucose concentration 201 (89) mg/dL, hemoglobin A1c 8.7% (1.6), serum creatinine concentration 1.6 (0.5) mg/dL, iothalamate clearance 52 (25) mL/min/1.73 m2, proteinuria 4.1 (4.2) g/d, triglycerides 259 (214) mg/dL, and LDL cholesterol 144 (40) mg/dL. Patients are 72% male, 68% white, 16% black, and 16% Asian American and Native American. At baseline, 76% were receiving concomitant angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and 43% lipid-lowering agents. Follow-up in ACTION II was scheduled to continue through December 1998, so that follow-up was to be 2 years after the date of randomization of the final enrolled patient. The trial in fact ended in March 1998. This trial will contribute to our understanding of the natural history of type 2 diabetes mellitus-associated nephropathy and determine whether aminoguanidine will slow the progression of established diabetic renal disease.