The Second Australian National Blood Pressure Study (ANBP2) is a comparative outcome trial being conducted in general practices throughout Australia of ACE inhibitor- and diuretic-based treatment in 6000 hypertensive patients aged 65-84 years. The study is using a prospective randomised open-label design with blinding of endpoint assessments. The primary objective is to determine whether there is any difference in total cardiovascular events (fatal and non-fatal) over a five year treatment period between the two treatment regimens. Eligible hypertensive patients (average sitting blood pressure at the 2nd and 3rd screening visits > 160 mm Hg systolic and/or > 90 mm Hg diastolic) may be either untreated or previously treated and should have no history of recent cardiovascular morbidity or serious intercurrent illness. Patients are randomised to one of the treatment arms with randomisation stratified for practice and for age. Following randomisation each patient's blood pressure is managed by his/her general practitioner according to guidelines relevant to each treatment arm. Over 700 patients have now been randomised with recruitment intended to be complete by the end of 1997.