The effects of captopril on the response of cytosolic free Ca2+ concentration in cultured vascular smooth muscle cells of aortas from Wistar-Kyoto and spontaneously hypertensive rats to angiotensin II (Ang II) and bradykinin were studied using fura 2. Incubation with captopril for longer than 10 minutes caused a decreased response of cytosolic free Ca2+ to Ang II and bradykinin. Maximal effects of captopril were observed after a 40-minute incubation. The inhibitory effect of captopril was abolished in Ca2+ -free medium, suggesting that captopril acts by blocking Ca2+ influx. Similar effects were observed with enalaprilat. Isometric contraction of aortic strips induced by Ang II in normotensive rats was reduced from 6.5±2.5 to 1.8±0.6 mN by a 40-minute incubation with 1 μmol/L captopril (P=.016). Enalaprilat similarly decreased the Ang II-induced contraction. Besides the inhibition of the angiotensin converting enzyme, direct effects of Ang II converting enzyme inhibitors on vascular contraction and Ca2+ influx in vascular smooth muscle cells may be of therapeutic relevance.