Essential hypertension is a major Public Health issue. Although the number of treated hypertensive patients has increased, only 25% of treated patients have their blood pressure levels under control. The benefit of treating hypertension has been proven, but cardiovascular morbidity and mortality rates remain high. The ideal antihypertensive drug should not only normalize blood pressure levels, but also reduce the associated cardiovascular morbidity and mortality rates. The role of angiotensin II in systemic hypertension and its complications has been recently redefined. The potent trophic effects of angiotensin II on blood vessels and on cardiac cells have been well demonstrated, especially the role of angiotensin II in left ventricular hypertrophy, vascular hypertrophy, endothelial dysfunction, and congestive heart failure. Of all ongoing mortality and morbidity trials in systemic hypertension, VALUE (Valsartan Antihypertensive Long-term Use Evaluation) is the only one comparing an angiotensin II antagonist (valsartan) with a third-generation calcium channel blocker (amlodipine). The main hypothesis of the VALUE trial is that, for an equivalent decrease in blood pressure, valsartan will be more effective than amlodipine in decreasing cardiac mortality and morbidity. VALUE is a prospective, multinational, multicentre, double-blind, randomized, active-controlled, 2-arm parallel group comparison with a response-dependent dose titration scheme. VALUE involves 14,400 patients in over 30 countries, who will be followed for 4 years or until 1450 patients experience a primary endpoint. The population to be included in VALUE consists of hypertensive men and women, aged 50 years or older, and at a relatively high risk of sustaining a cardiovascular event. The high risk profile is defined taking into account age, gender, and a list of cardiovascular risk factors and disease factors. Risk factors are cigarette smoking, hypercholesterolaemia, diabetes mellitus, uncomplicated left ventricular hypertrophy, proteinuria, and high serum creatinine. Disease factors include documented history of myocardial infarction, peripheral vascular disease, stroke or transient ischaemic attack, or the presence of left ventricular hypertrophy with strain on the ECG. A unique feature of VALUE is the assessment of the predictive power of this cardiovascular risk factor scale in a large population of treated hypertensive patients. The trial started on 10 September 1997.