We investigated whether the prevention of the development of diabetic nephropathy by angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors is associated with decreases in renal angiotensin-converting enzyme activity and/or blood pressure in diabetic mice. C57Bl/6 mice were injected with streptozotocin (200 mg/kg, i.v.) and randomized to receive either imidapril (1 and 5 mg/kg) or captopril (10 and 50 mg/kg) or vehicle by gavage for 28 days. Each assay was performed on 8-10 mice from each treatment. At 28 days after the start of drug treatment, imidapril and captopril significantly reduced blood pressure of the diabetic mice, and this effect of captopril was stronger than that of imidapril. On the other hand, inhibition of renal angiotensin-converting enzyme activity by imidapril was stronger than that by captopril. Imidapril and captopril dose-dependently inhibited urinary albumin excretion to similar extents, but they failed to inhibit the renal hypertrophy and elevation of creatinine clearance. Total renal angiotensin-converting enzyme activity was significantly reduced in diabetic mice, but immunohistochemical localization of angiotensin-converting enzyme was intensive in the vasculature and glomeruli of the diabetic kidney. In conclusion, both effects on blood pressure and angiotensin-converting enzyme activity may be involved in the prevention of development of diabetic nephropathy by imidapril and captopril in streptozotocin-induced diabetic mice. The data suggest that the degrees of contribution of their effects on blood pressure and renal angiotensin-converting enzyme activity to the inhibition of urinary albumin excretion may be different between the two angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors.