The present 2 multicenter studies were designed to evaluate whether patients with essential hypertension derived equal benefits from use of combination therapy with a calcium antagonist and angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor as from doubling the dose of the calcium antagonist. After a 2-week washout and a 2-week single-blind placebo run-in period, a total of 1,390 patients were treated with either nifedipine 30 mg (study 1) or amlodipine 5 mg (study 2) once daily for 4 weeks. The 1,079 patients whose diastolic blood pressure remained between 95 and 115 mm Hg were randomized to 8 weeks of double-blind therapy with amlodipine 5 mg/benazepril 10 mg, amlodipine 5 mg/benazepril 20 mg, nifedipine 30 mg or nifedipine 60 mg (study 1), and amlodipine 5 mg/benazepril 10 mg, amlodipine 5 mg/benazepril 20 mg, amlodipine 5 mg or amlodipine 10 mg (study 2). Both doses of the calcium antagonist/ACE inhibitor combination therapy lowered diastolic pressure as much as the high dose and significantly better than the lower dose of calcium antagonist monotherapy (with either nifedipine or amlodipine). However, 15% of patients in the nifedipine high-dose monotherapy group and 24% in the amlodipine high-dose monotherapy group presented with some form of edema. In contrast, the incidence of edema was similar for patients treated with both combination therapy and low-dose calcium antagonists. Thus, combination therapy with a calcium antagonist and an ACE inhibitor provides blood pressure control equal to that of high-dose calcium antagonist monotherapy but with significantly fewer dose-dependent adverse experiences such as vasodilatory edema. (C) 2000 by Excerpta Medica, Inc.