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Five patients with hepatorenal syndrome were treated with the orally active angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor captopril (25 or 50 mg 6 hourly) for up to 48 hours. Only one patient showed a significant increase in urinary sodium concentration (from <10 to 70 mmol/liter), but without associated diuresis; renal function continued to deteriorate in all patients with persistent oliguria and rising serum creatinine. The outcome was uniformly fatal. These results suggest that in the hepatorenal syndrome, captopril in standard dosage is without benefit, and provide further evidence that the changes in the renin-angiotensin system are probably secondary to reduced renal perfusion from some other cause.