The role of angiotensin II, the key mediator of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system, in the pathophysiology of cardiovascular disease is well known. Pharmacologic interruption of the activity of angiotensin II, either through blockade of the angiotensin receptor or inhibition of angiotensin-converting enzyme, is associated with a reduction in cardiovascular disease morbidity and mortality, as evidenced by accumulated data from large-scale, well-controlled clinical trials in high-risk populations. As the underlying mechanisms of vascular disease and the effects of blockade of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system on these processes have been further defined, the therapeutic focus has begun to shift toward prevention of disease progression at earlier stages. Continued research has identified early signs of vascular disease, such as endothelial dysfunction and vascular and cardiac remodeling, which occur long before clinical manifestations of cardiovascular disease become evident. Diagnostic tests are now available to assess otherwise healthy individuals for these signs. A preliminary trial is under way to evaluate the role of angiotensin receptor blockade as preventive treatment of individuals with early signs of vascular or cardiac disease.