1. This study has administered pirfenidone (5-methyl-1-phenyl-2-[1H]-pyridone) or amiloride to attenuate the remodelling and associated functional changes, especially an increased cardiac stiffness, in DOCA-salt hypertensive rats. 2. In control rats, the elimination half-life of pirfenidone following a single intravenous dose of 200 mg kg(-1) was 37 min while oral bioavailability at this dose was 25.7%. Plasma pirfenidone concentrations in control rats averaged 1.9 +/- 0.1 microg ml(-1) over 24 h after 14 days' administration as a 0.4% mixture in food. 3. Pirfenidone (approximately 250-300 mg kg(-1) day(-1) as 0.4% in food) and amiloride (1 mg kg(-1) day(-1) sc) were administered for 2 weeks starting 2 weeks post-surgery. Pirfenidone but not amiloride attenuated ventricular hypertrophy (2.69 +/- 0.09, UNX 2.01 +/- 0.05. DOCA-salt 3.11 +/- 0.09 mg kg(-1) body wt) without lowering systolic blood pressure. 4. Collagen deposition was significantly increased in the interstitium after 2 weeks and further increased with scarring of the left ventricle after 4 weeks; pirfenidone and amiloride reversed the increases and prevented further increases. This accumulation of collagen was accompanied by an increase in diastolic stiffness constant; both amiloride and pirfenidone reversed this increase. 5. Noradrenaline potency (positive chronotropy) was decreased in right atria (neg log EC50: control 6.92 +/- 0.06; DOCA-salt 6.64 +/- 0.08); pirfenidone but not amiloride reversed this change. Noradrenaline was a more potent vasoconstrictor in thoracic aortic rings (neg log EC50: control 6.91 +/- 0.10; DOCA-salt 7.90 +/- 0.07); pirfenidone treatment did not change noradrenaline potency. 6. Thus, pirfenidone and amiloride reverse and prevent cardiac remodelling and the increased cardiac stiffness without reversing the increased vascular responses to noradrenaline.