Observational studies have shown that the use of angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors is associated with the maintenance of greater muscle strength and physical performance in older subjects. However, the mechanism that underlies these beneficial effects remains poorly understood. Because ACE inhibitors block the production of angiotensin II, which is a potent inhibitor of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) production, it was hypothesized that treatment with ACE inhibitors is associated with higher levels of IGF-1. This hypothesis was tested in 745 subjects (417 women, 328 men) enrolled in the Invecchiare in Chianti study. Of these, 160 were receiving ACE inhibitors. The association between ACE inhibitor use and serum IGF-1 was tested by linear regression models. After adjusting for multiple potential confounders, serum levels of total IGF-1 were significantly higher in participants receiving ACE inhibitors (mean +/- SD 129.0 +/- 56.1 ng/ml) compared with the rest of the study population (mean +/- SD 116.5 +/- 54.8 ng/ml) (p <0.001). Participants with short (<3 years) and long (3 to 9 years) treatment durations had higher serum IGF-1 levels than participants who were not receiving ACE inhibitor treatment, but the difference was statistically significant only for the short-duration group (p <0.05). In conclusion, in older subjects, treatment with ACE inhibitors for <3 years is associated with significantly higher levels of IGF-1. This may be 1 of the mechanisms by which ACE inhibitors might slow the decreases in muscle strength and physical function that are often observed in older subjects.