The purpose of this review is to describe how recent pharmacological and genetic studies have contributed to our understanding of the role of the renin-angiotensin system (RAS) in age-related sarcopenia and diastolic dysfunction. Treatment strategies are limited in the context of both of these conditions, although interventions, which include blockade of the RAS (using angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors and angiotensin-receptor-blockers) are successful and lead to improvements in functional outcomes that are not necessarily mediated by hemodynamic effects of the drugs. Studies in animal models of sarcopenia and diastolic dysfunction point to ubiquitous effects of RAS blockade on multiple biological mechanisms, including inflammation, oxidative damage and metabolic dysregulation. Therefore, a re-evaluation of the use of these drugs in other conditions should be considered for maintaining functional independence in older individuals. © 2008 Future Medicine Ltd.