Considerable effort has been expended to determine whether the gene for angiotensin I-converting enzyme (ACE) confers susceptibility to cardiovascular disease. In this study, we genotyped 13 polymorphisms in the ACE gene in 1,343 Nigerians from 332 families. To localize the genetic effect, we first performed linkage and association analysis of all the markers with ACE concentration. In multipoint variance-component analysis, this region was strongly linked to ACE concentration (maximum LOD score 7.5). Likewise, most of the polymorphisms in the ACE gene were significantly associated with ACE (P<.0013). The two most highly associated polymorphisms, ACE4 and ACE8, accounted for 6% and 19% of the variance in ACE, respectively. A two-locus additive model with an additive x additive interaction of these polymorphisms explained most of the ACE variation associated with this region. We next analyzed the relationship between these two polymorphisms (ACE4 and ACE8) and blood pressure (BP). Although no evidence of linkage was detected, significant association was found for both systolic and diastolic BP when a two-locus additive model developed for ACE concentration was used. Further analyses demonstrated that an epistasis model provided the best fit to the BP variation. In conclusion, we found that the two polymorphisms explaining the greatest variation in ACE concentration are significantly associated with BP, through interaction, in this African population sample. Our study also demonstrates that greater statistical power can be anticipated with association analysis versus linkage, when markers in strong linkage disequilibrium with a trait locus have been identified. Furthermore, allelic interaction may play an important role in the dissection of complex traits such as BP.