This trial investigated the effect of enalapril, administered early, on left ventricular (LV) volumes after myocardial infarction. Four hundred twenty-eight patients included in the Cooperative New Scandinavian Enalapril Survival Study (CONSENSUS II) were examined with echocardiography within 5 days, at 1 month and at 6 months after myocardial infarction. Enalaprilat (1 mg) or placebo infusion was initiated within 24 hours after infarction, followed by oral treatment to a target dose of 20 mg/day. A significant attenuation of LV dilatation was noted at 1 month in patients treated with enalapril compared with those receiving placebo. Changes in LV end-diastolic volume indexes during the first month were (mean +/- SEM) 5.7 +/- 1.0 ml/m2 for the placebo group and 1.9 +/- 0.8 ml/m2 for the enalapril group (p < 0.02). Changes in LV end-systolic volume indexes were 3.1 +/- 0.8 and 0.5 +/- 0.6 ml/m2, respectively (p < 0.02). The between-group difference was most marked in patients with anterior wall infarction (p < 0.005). Volume changes beyond the first month were similar in both groups but the differences observed at 1 month were maintained. The larger volumes in the placebo versus enalapril group were significant or borderline significant at 1 and 6 months. Thus, enalapril treatment initiated early after myocardial infarction and continued for 6 months can attenuate LV dilatation during the first month resulting in smaller LV volumes after 1 and 6 months.