The pathogenesis of hypertension in autosomal-dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD) is unclear, but increased activity of the renin-angiotension system may contribute. The renal and systemic hemodynamic response to lisinopril, an angiotension converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor, in patients with ADPKD without renal failure was compared with the response in matched unaffected family members. Mean blood pressure and renal vascular resistance decreased in the affected group after lisinopril, with no significant change in the unaffected group. Glomerular filtration rate (GFR) was unchanged and therefore filtration fraction fell significantly. Changes in urinary excretion of 6-keto-PGF1 alpha and kallikrein suggested that increased renal synthesis of PGI2 or activation of the renal kallikrein-kinin system were not likely to be responsible for the hemodynamic effects. The acute decrease in renal vascular resistance without change in GFR suggests that ACE inhibition may have a particular value in the treatment of hypertension associated with ADPKD which should be assessed by further long-term studies.