A review of recent studies suggests that the use of angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors may be preferred (usually along with a diuretic drug) as initial therapy in several subsets of hypertensive patients (i.e., those with diabetes and nephropathy or with diminished left ventricular function with or without symptoms of heart failure). Limited long-term data are available for the angiotensin II receptor antagonists. The use of nondihydropyridine calcium channel blocking agents (CCBs) appears to reduce reinfarction in patients with ischemic heart disease (however, mortality is not reduced). Long-acting formulas of CCBs appear to decrease congestive heart failure in patients with dilated, but not ischemic, cardiomyopathy and to decrease strokes and arrhythmias in hypertensive subjects. Short-acting agents (primarily those that increase heart rate) may increase coronary heart disease events in hypertensive patients. There is little evidence at present that CCBs offer a major advantage over other antihypertensive agents or that they should be recommended as initial therapy, except in special situations.