We compared the angiotensin II receptor antagonist valsartan to losartan as an antihypertensive agent in an 8-week trial. Adults with uncomplicated essential hypertension (baseline seated diastolic blood pressure < 115 mm Hg and ≥ 95 mm Hg) were randomized to receive 80 mg valsartan, 50 mg losartan, or placebo once daily. After 4 weeks doses of active medication and placebo were doubled. Seated systolic and diastolic blood pressures were measured and the response rate evaluated. Tolerability was assessed by the incidence of adverse events. Both angiotensin II receptor antagonists produced similar significant reductions in mean blood pressures at 4 and 8 weeks compared to placebo. Valsartan produced a significantly higher number of responders (62%) than losartan (55%, P = .02) at the 8 week treatment endpoint. The incidence of adverse experiences (AE) was similar in all three groups, with headache and dizziness reported most often. Valsartan (80/160 mg) monotherapy in this trial was as effective and well tolerated as 50/100 mg losartan in treating mild to moderate essential hypertension, and at 160 mg has a significantly higher responder rate than 100 mg losartan.