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A double-blind randomised, parallel, placebo-controlled study was performed in patients with congestive heart failure, at 13 centres in 10 countries, to assess the efficacy and safety of lisinopril, a new antiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor. After a 2-week run-in period, 130 patients receiving digoxin and/or diuretics were randomised to 12 weeks of treatment with lisinopril 5 mg daily (87 patients) or with placebo (43 patients), with an option to increase lisinopril dosage to 10 or 20 mg. Patients treated with lisinopril improved significantly more than placebo-treated patients (p < 0.05) for all clinical parameters except oedema and paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnoea. Left ventricular ejection fraction rose by 8% in lisinopril patients compared to 2% in the placebo group, while the cardiothoracic ratio and echocardiographic end systolic diameter fell in the lisinopril group (p < 0.01) but not in the placebo group. Exercise duration was greater in the lisinopril group at all timepoints, and the increase in exercise duration at 12 weeks was greater by more than 2 min in the lisinopril group as compared to the placebo group (p < 0.01). Changes in clinical and noninvasive parameters such as the New York Heart Association status, were well correlated with changes in exercise duration. Four patients in the lisinopril group and three in the placebo group died in this study, and there were 31 adverse clinical experiences in the 87 lisinopril-treated patients compared to 13 in the 43 placebo-treated patients. We conclude that lisinopril in doses of 2.5–20 mg/ day is well tolerated and effective in patients with heart failure who are receiving digitalis and diuretics.