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Elevated blood pressure is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular illness and death. Efforts to reduce that risk have led to recommendations for a wide array of nondrug and drug therapies. Choosing the optimal first-line drug for hypertensive patients should address a hierarchy of treatment goals: decrease in morbidity and mortality associated with hypertension, decrease in blood pressure, lack of effect on patients' quality of life, dosing convenience and low cost. This article examines the evidence for thiazide diuretics as a class of first-line antihypertensive drugs in light of these treatment goals. The evidence indicates that low-dose thiazides are preferable to high-dose thiazides and that low-dose thiazides are better than or equivalent to other antihypertensive drugs for each of the goals of therapy.