The Study on COgnition and Prognosis in the Elderly (SCOPE) is a multicentre, prospective, randomized, double-blind, parallel-group study designed to compare the effects of candesartan cilexetil and placebo in elderly patients with mild hypertension. The primary objective of the study is to assess the effect of candesartan cilexetil on major cardiovascular events. The secondary objectives of the study are to assess the effect of candesartan cilexetil on cognitive function and on total mortality, cardiovascular mortality, myocardial infarction, stroke, renal function, hospitalization, quality of life and health economics. Male and female patients aged between 70 and 89 years, with a sitting systolic blood pressure (SBP) of 160-179 mmHg and/or diastolic blood pressure (DBP) of 90-99 mmHg, and a Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) score of 24 or above, are eligible for the study. The overall target study population is 4000 patients, at least 1000 of whom are also to be assessed for quality of life and health economics data. After an open run-in period lasting 1-3 months, during which patients are assessed for eligibility and those who are already on antihypertensive therapy at enrolment are switched to hydrochlorothiazide 12.5 mg o.d., patients are randomized to receive either candesartan cilexetil 8 mg once daily (o.d.) or matching placebo o.d. At subsequent study visits, if SBP remains >160 mmHg, or has decreased by <10 mmHg since the randomization visit, or DBP is >85 mmHg, study treatment is doubled to candesartan cilexetil 16 mg o.d. or two placebo tablets o.d. Recruitment was completed in January 1999. At that time 4964 patients had been randomized. All randomized patients will be followed for an additional 2 years. If the event rate is lower than anticipated, the follow-up will be prolonged.