Irbesartan interrupts the renin-angiotensin system via selective blockade of the angiotensin II subtype 1 receptor; the latter being responsible for the pressor related effects of angiotensin II. As treatment for mild to moderate hypertension, irbesartan 150 mg/day controlled diastolic BP in 56% of patients according to pooled data from several phase III studies and 77% of patients in a large phase IV study. in comparative trials, irbesartan was significantly more effective than losartan and valsartan as treatment for mild to moderate essential hypertension and as effective as enalapril or atenolol. Results from many studies show an additive antihypertensive effect when hydrochlorothiazide is added to irbesartan monotherapy. The drug also induces statistically significant regression of left ventricular mass in patients with hypertension and left ventricular hypertrophy, and preliminary evidence suggests it has beneficial haemodynamic effects in patients with heart failure. Irbesartan is very well tolerated, exhibiting an adverse event profile similar to that seen with placebo in comparative trials. In conclusion, although the role of irbesartan as a treatment for heart failure is little clearer than it was 2 years ago, the place of the drug in the management of hypertension is now better established. There is evidence to suggest the drug may have a role as initial therapy for hypertension, although formal recommendation in management guidelines will almost certainly not occur until long term morbidity and mortality benefits are established.