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To undertake a systematic review of the studies on the effect of antihypertensive treatment on ambulatory (ABP) and office blood pressure in order to obtain a differential assessment of the magnitude of the reduction in (1) office blood pressure compared with 24-h average ABP values, and (2) daytime compared with night-time average blood pressure values.Medline search, Cochrane Library.This review is based on a meta-analysis (carried out according to the Quality of Reports of Meta-analyses of Randomized Controlled Trials Group statement, whenever applicable) of papers on the effect of antihypertensive drugs on blood pressure. Papers were selected if they provided information on drug-induced changes in one or both of: (1) both office blood pressure and 24-h ABP, and/or (2) both daytime and night-time average blood pressure. Additional inclusion criteria were administration of antihypertensive drugs for at least 1 week and good quality ABP, according to current guidelines. Comparison between the effect of treatment on blood pressure values was made by meta-regression of the data provided by the individual studies (weighted by their size) and by calculating differences between weighted average values obtained by pooling the results of individual papers.We identified 984 papers on this issue by Medline search, with no additional information from the Cochrane Library. The inclusion criteria were satisfied by only 44 papers, which were included in the final analysis. The results showed that treatment-induced reduction in blood pressure is both smaller for the 24-h average than for the office systolic and diastolic blood pressure and smaller for night-time than for daytime average diastolic blood pressure, the average ratio ranging from 0.67 to 0.75. A different ratio characterized the treatment-induced changes in office blood pressure and ABP in the Heart Outcomes Prevention Evaluation (HOPE) ABP substudy.The effect of antihypertensive treatment is greater on office blood pressure than on ABP, and is unevenly distributed between day and night. This suggests caution when interpreting trials on cardiovascular protection by antihypertensive treatment that are based only on office blood pressure readings, and advocates a more systematic adoption of ABP monitoring in these trials. The conflicting data provided by the main HOPE study and by the HOPE-ABP monitoring substudy on the role of blood pressure reduction in explaining the reduced event rates associated with treatment by angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors are a clear example of the importance of performing ABP monitoring in trials on cardiovascular protection.