The efficacy and safety of optimally titrated once-daily (CD) and twice-daily (SR) diltiazem were compared in 111 patients with mild to moderate systemic hypertension [seated diastolic blood pressure (DBP) > or = 95 mmHg and < or = 114 mmHg] in a multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo run-in, parallel-group trial. Following a 4 week washout and placebo-controlled run-in period, patients were randomized to receive diltiazem CD 180 mg and matching placebo (n = 54), or diltiazem SR 90 mg bid (n = 57). Total daily doses were titrated from 180 mg to 360 mg to achieve a goal of seated DBP < 90 mmHg during a 6 week titration period. The patients continued to receive their optimal dose for a 6 week follow-up period. Ninety-six (96) patients (diltiazem CD: 47, diltiazem SR: 49) completed the study protocol, with 60% of the diltiazem CD and 55% of the diltiazem SR patients achieving the goal of seated DBP of < 90 mmHg (p = 0.685). Although significant decreases occurred in seated and standing measurements of diastolic and systolic BP and heart rate with treatment in both groups, there were no significant differences between treatment groups. Both medications were well tolerated, with a similar frequency of adverse effects [diltiazem CD: 24/54 (37%) patients; diltiazem SR: 24/57 (42.1%) patients] with the most frequently reported adverse effects being headache and edema.