The current goal of angiography in the diagnosis of renal artery disease is poorly defined, probably because of the diversity of patients presenting for management. The current application of angiography is better understood when put into perspective with the patient population that we are trying to screen. There are two distinct patient populations with renovascular disease: those with uncontrolled hypertension and those with azotemia or risk of progression to end-stage renal disease. The role of angiography in these two patient populations is quite different. In patients with hypertensive renovascular disease, angiography should be applied rather late and should be preceded by other noninvasive testing to screen patients from those with essential hypertension, since the prevalence of this disease is low and the cost implications of applying angiography primarily are immense. The two promising tests in this setting are captropril renography and duplex ultrasound scanning. In contradistinction, patients with azotemic renovascular disease, suffering from bilateral renal artery stenoses, or suffering from stenosis of the renal artery in a solitary kidney may be better studied by early application of renal angiography, especially those at risk of progression and for whom intervention is indicated.