The pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of the angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor cilazapril were studied in 12 Chinese and 13 Caucasian, healthy, normotensive volunteers on their normal diet. Cilazapril was given orally as a single 2.5 mg capsule. Plasma was sampled for assay of the active metabolite, cilazaprilat, plasma renin activity (PRA), aldosterone, angiotensin I (AI) and ACE-activity. Plasma concentrations of the active drug were measured by radioimmunoassay. Blood pressure and heart rate were measured at regular intervals. The pharmacokinetic parameters of cilazaprilat were similar in the two ethnic groups. No significant difference in plasma concentrations was found at any of the time points. However, the weight-adjusted plasma clearance was significantly higher in the Chinese group, which is compatible with their lower body weight. The effects on plasma hormones were also comparable, although there was a somewhat greater rise in PRA and greater fall in aldosterone levels in Chinese than in Caucasians. The effect of cilazapril on blood pressure and heart rate was greater than was previously reported in healthy volunteers. Systolic (SBP) and diastolic (DBP) blood pressure were significantly reduced in both groups, but there was a more prolonged reduction in DBP in Caucasians. In addition, heart rate (HR) was significantly increased from baseline from 5 h onwards in Chinese subjects and significantly higher in comparison with Caucasians at most time points from 1.5 h onwards. The pharmacokinetic parameters of cilazapril were essentially the same in healthy, normotensive Chinese and Caucasians. Cilazapril reduced blood pressure acutely in both groups, with good tolerance. The inhibition of ACE in relationship to time and the plasma concentrations of cilazaprilat were similar in the two groups, although the changes in PRA and aldosterone suggest an ethnic difference in the responses of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system.