The renin-angiotensin system is central to the pathophysiology of a number of cardiovascular disorders. Most obviously this is so with renin secreting tumours, but the system is of central importance in other disorders such as scleroderma renal crisis and most cases of malignant hypertension. Activation of the renin-angiotensin system in unilateral renal artery stenosis is pivotal to the development of hypertension and the disturbances in electrolyte and volume balance -- most particularly in the hyponatraemic-hypertensive syndrome. Likewise, stimulation of the renin-angiotensin system is an important contributor, amongst many other systems, to the pathophysiology of cardiac failure. In diabetic nephropathy, the renin-angiotensin system is often suppressed as gauged by circulating levels of renin, yet it appears to make an important contribution to the progressive decline in renal function. Much less clear is the role of the renin-angiotensin system in essential hypertension insofar as it contributes to the level of blood pressure, to the development of left ventricular hypertrophy, and in the evolution of complications such as stroke and myocardial infarction. Blockade of the renin-angiotensin system with angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors has contributed to our understanding of the role of this system in cardiovascular disease. The advent of selective angiotensin II type-1 receptor blockers will further increase knowledge in this area.