Renal artery stenosis (RAS) may cause hypertension, azotemia, episodes of flash pulmonary edema and congestive heart failure. Renal artery angioplasty and stenting was performed in 207 patients from 1991 to 1997. Thirty-nine of these patients (19%) underwent renal artery stenting for the control of recurrent episodes of congestive heart failure and flash pulmonary edema. All patients had angiographic evidence of severe (>70%) bilateral RAS (n = 18) or severe RAS to a solitary functioning kidney (n = 21). Sixteen patients (41%) were male and 23 (59%) were female, mean age 69.9 years (range 50-85 years). Of the 18 patients with bilateral RAS, 12 (66.6%) underwent bilateral stenting. Mean blood pressure decreased from 174/85 +/- 32/23 mmHg to 148/72 +/- 24/14 mmHg (p < 0.001). Mean number of blood pressure medications decreased from 3 +/- 1 to 2.5 +/- 1 (p = 0.006). Twenty-eight patients (71.8%) had improvement in blood pressure control. The mean serum creatinine decreased from 3.16 +/- 1.61 to 2.65 +/- 1.87 (p = 0.06). Six of 39 patients (15.4%) used angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors prior to stenting whereas 19 of 39 patients (48.7%) used ACE inhibitors poststenting (p = 0.004). Twenty of 39 patients (51.4%) demonstrated improvement in serum creatinine, 10 of 39 patients (25.6%) had stabilization of serum creatinine and nine of 39 patients (23%) demonstrated worsening. The number of hospitalizations due to congestive heart failure in the year preceding renal artery stenting was 2.4 +/- 1.4 and poststenting was 0.3 +/- 0.7 (p < 0.001). The New York Heart Association Functional Class decreased from 2.9 +/- 0.9 prestenting to 1.6 +/- 0.9 poststenting (p < 0.001). Thirty of 39 patients (77%) had no hospitalizations for congestive heart failure during a mean follow-up period of 21.3 months. Nine patients expired during the course of follow up; eight of the nine patients died within the first year after renal artery stenting. Renal artery stenting decreased the frequency of congestive heart failure, flash pulmonary edema, and the need for hospitalization in most patients. Blood pressure was markedly improved in the majority of patients with improved or stabilized renal function. Evaluation for RAS is important in hypertensive patients who present with recurrent congestive heart failure or flash pulmonary edema.