Angiotensin (Ang) II is now recognized to be a mediator of a wide variety of inflammatory processes. This study investigated renin-angiotensin system (RAS) components and a number of inflammatory mediators in left ventricular biopsies from 2-vessel disease unstable angina (UA) (n=43) and stable angina (SA) (n=15) patients undergoing coronary bypass surgery. Biopsy samples from 6 patients undergoing valve replacement for mitral stenosis served as controls. UA patients were randomly assigned to angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE)-inhibitor (ramipril), AT1 antagonist (valsartan), or placebo and treated during the 5 days preceding coronary bypass surgery, performed from 6 to 9 days after coronary angiography. During coronary angiography coronary blood flow was measured and samples were obtained from aorta and coronary sinus for determination of Ang I and Ang II gradients. The hearts of UA patients produced Ang II in a greater amount than in SA patients (P <0.01). UA biopsy samples showed numerous DR+ cells, identified as lymphocytes, macrophages, and endothelial cells. Reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction showed overexpression of AGTN, ACE, and AT1-R genes, as well as upregulation of TNF-α, IL-6, IFN-γ, and iNOS genes (P <0.01), with no differences between nonischemic and potentially ischemic areas. AGTN, ACE, and cytokine genes were mainly localized on endothelial cells. Ramipril and valsartan markedly decreased the expression levels of TNF-α, IL-6, and iNOS, and, to a lesser extent, of IFN-γ genes, but did not affect the number of DR+ cells, with no significant difference between the 2 treatments. These results show that locally generated Ang II amplifies the immunomediated inflammatory process of coronary microvessels occurring in unstable angina.