The Valsartan Antihypertensive Long-term Use Evaluation (VALUE) trial was designed to test whether, for the same achieved blood pressures, regimens based on valsartan or amlodipine would have differing effects on cardiovascular endpoints in high risk hypertension. But inequalities in blood pressure, favouring amlodipine, throughout the multiyear trial precluded comparison of outcomes. A technique of serial median matching, applied at 6 months when treatment adjustments intended to achieve control of blood pressure were complete, created 5006 valsartan-amlodipine patient pairs matched exactly for systolic blood pressure, age, sex, and the presence or absence of previous coronary disease, stroke, or diabetes. Subsequent combined cardiac events, myocardial infarction, stroke, and mortality were almost identical in the two cohorts, but admission to hospital for heart failure was significantly lower with valsartan. Reaching blood pressure control (systolic <140 mm Hg) by 6 months, independent of drug type, was associated with significant benefits for subsequent major outcomes; the blood pressure response after just 1 month of treatment predicted events and survival.