Hypertension is a leading risk factor for the development and progression of diabetic retinopathy and contributes to a variety of other retinal diseases in the absence of diabetes mellitus. Inhibition of the renin-angiotensin system has been shown to provide beneficial effects against diabetic retinopathy, both in the absence and presence of hypertension, suggesting that angiotensin II (Ang II) and the Ang II type 1 receptor may contribute to retinal vascular dysfunction. We investigated the effects of the Ang II type 1 receptor antagonist candesartan on retinal vascular permeability (RVP) in normotensive rats with streptozotocin-induced diabetes mellitus and in rats with Ang II-induced hypertension. We showed that candesartan treatment decreased diabetes mellitus- and Ang II-stimulated RVP by 58% (P<0.05) and 79% (P<0.05), respectively, compared with untreated controls, suggesting that activation of the Ang II type 1 receptor contributes to blood-retinal barrier dysfunction. We found that plasma kallikrein levels are increased in the retina of rats with Ang II-stimulated hypertension and that intravitreal injection of either plasma kallikrein or bradykinin is sufficient to increase RVP. We showed that a novel small molecule inhibitor of plasma kallikrein, 1-benzyl-1H-pyrazole-4-carboxylic acid 4-carbamimidoyl-benzylamide, delivered systemically via a subcutaneous pump, decreased Ang II-stimulated RVP by 70% (P<0.05) and ameliorates Ang II-induced hypertension, measured from the carotid artery by telemetry, but did not reduce Ang II-induced retinal leukostasis. These findings demonstrate that activation of the Ang II type 1 receptor increases RVP and suggest that systemic plasma kallikrein inhibition may provide a new therapeutic approach for ameliorating blood-retinal barrier dysfunction induced by hypertension.