We prospectively compared in a blinded fashion spiral computed tomography angiography (CTA) with arteriography in 62 consecutive patients with suspected renal artery stenosis (RAS). For CTA 150 ml of contrast material were injected intravenously. Arteriography was performed by DSA technique with selective catheterization of renal arteries. Of the 157 visualized renal arteries 155 could be evaluated with DSA and a total of 157 with CTA. Sensitivity of CTA for RAS > or = 50% was 98% and the specificity was 94%. Comparison of the grade of stenosis as evaluated by DSA versus CTA showed: identical gradation in 59 arteries (DSA > or = 50%/CTA > or = 50%), underestimation by CTA in one artery (DSA 50 to 75%/CTA < 50%), and overestimation by CTA in six arteries (DSA < 50%/CTA 50 to 75%). Factors that may contribute to these differences include impaired renal function and possibly "underestimation" of ostial RAS by arteriography. One artery not evaluable by arteriography showed a 70% stenosis by CTA. CTA showed no major side effects. We conclude that CTA has the same accuracy for the diagnosis of RAS > or = 50% as arteriography. However, CTA is only minimally invasive, safe, and causes less discomfort to patients.