Many studies have consistently documented that angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors prevent proteinuria and glomerulosclerosis in progressive renal disease, but very few data are available on whether they also prevent renal failure and death. The mechanisms of the beneficial effect of ACE inhibition are only partially understood. Recent data suggest that angiotensin II modulates renal synthesis of endothelin-1, a vasoactive peptide implicated in the process of renal injury. Here we investigated in a long-term study whether ACE inhibition ameliorated renal function in uninephrectomized (UNx) male MWF/Ztm rats. Three groups of rats at nine weeks of age underwent UNx or sham-operation. Nephrectomized animals were left untreated or treated with the ACE inhibitor lisinopril in drinking water. In untreated UNx animals systolic blood pressure, serum creatinine, urinary protein and renal synthesis of endothelin-1, evaluated by its urinary excretion, were significantly increased, as compared with control animals with two kidneys. End-stage renal failure developed in all untreated UNx rats that died within 9 to 14 months from UNx. ACE inhibitor significantly reduced systolic blood pressure, completely prevented proteinuria and renal function deterioration, and reduced endothelin-1 excretion. All UNx rats treated with lisinopril were alive 14 months after UNx. These results show that ACE inhibition prevents end-stage renal failure induced by UNx in male MWF/Ztm, and that the beneficial effects of angiotensin II inhibition in this model are related to modulation of renal synthesis of endothelin-1.