Astrocytomas develop intense vascular proliferation, essential for tumour growth and invasiveness. Angiotensin II (ANGII) was initially described as a vasoconstrictor; recent studies have shown its participation in cellular proliferation, vascularisation, and apoptosis. We conducted a prospective study to evaluate the expression of ANGII receptors - AT1 and AT2 - and their relationship with prognosis. We studied 133 tumours from patients with diagnosis of astrocytoma who underwent surgery from 1997 to 2002. AT1 and AT2 were expressed in 52 and 44% of the tumours, respectively, when determined by both reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction and immunohistochemistry. Ten per cent of low-grade astrocytomas were positive for AT1, whereas grade III and IV astrocytomas were positive in 67% (P<0.001). AT2 receptors were positive in 17% of low-grade astrocytomas and in 53% of high-grade astrocytomas (P=0.01). AT1-positive tumours showed higher cellular proliferation and vascular density. Patients with AT1-positive tumours had a lower survival rate than those with AT1-negative (P<0.001). No association to survival was found for AT2 in the multivariate analysis. Expression of AT1 and AT2 is associated with high grade of malignancy, increased cellular proliferation, and angiogenesis, and is thus related to poor prognosis. These findings suggest that ANGII receptors might be potential therapeutic targets for high-grade astrocytomas.