The endothelin system has been implicated in the pathogenesis of arterial hypertension and renal disorders. Endothelin-1, the predominant isoform of the endothelin peptide family, regulates vasoconstriction and cell proliferation in tissues both within and outside the cardiovascular system through activation of Gi-protein-coupled ET(A) and ET(B) receptors. Endothelin synthesis is regulated through autocrine mechanisms by endothelin converting enzymes, chymases, and non-endothelin converting enzyme metalloproteases. In-vitro experiments have demonstrated that endothelin-1 stimulates growth in vascular smooth muscle and in the kidney. Recent studies indicate that endothelin mRNA and protein are also increased in vivo in the kidney and vasculature in hypertension and renal disease. Studies using molecular or pharmacological inhibition of the endothelin system demonstrate that endothelin-1 contributes to the functional and structural changes associated with arterial hypertension and glomerulosclerosis, and that these effects are only in part dependent on blood pressure. These experimental studies and first clinical trials suggest that endothelin antagonists may offer therapeutic potential to reduce end-organ damage in diseases associated with vascular remodeling and renal injury.