A considerable amount of data have implicated angiotensin receptors (AT receptors) in the development and maintenance of essential hypertension and renovascular hypertension as well as in progressive renal pathologies. Inhibition of angiotensin II (Ang II) action by blocking Ang II formation through angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, or by blocking AT1 receptors directly using subtype-selective nonpeptide antagonists, has been found to attenuate the proteinuria, microalbuminuria, glomerulosclerosis, and nephrosclerosis in a variety of experimental models and in clinical trials. This review will first broadly discuss AT receptor subtypes in terms of their structure, function, tissue distribution and signaling. Secondly, the mechanistic differences between ACE inhibition and AT1 receptor blockade will be examined because these pharmaceutical agents are widely used tools to investigate the role of AT receptors in renal disease. Lastly, experimental models of essential hypertension, renovascular hypertension and progressive renal disease will be presented, which include the Fawn-hooded rat, the stroke prone spontaneously hypertensive rat, renal mass ablation and the 2K1C and 1K1C animal models. The overall goal of this review is to critically evaluate the data regarding the role of AT receptors in the pathophysiology of renal disease.