The effects of 14-day trandolapril or enalapril treatment of spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHRs) were studied on blood pressure and angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) activity measured ex vivo in various organs. Both ACE inhibitors caused dose-dependent decreases in blood pressure and ACE activity, trandolapril being 30− and 400− to 1,000-fold more active than enalapril on blood pressure and ACE activity, respectively. However, comparison of ACE inhibitory activities of the diacid forms of trandolapril and enalapril, i.e., trandolaprilat and enalaprilat, measured in vitro on various tissues, showed that trandolaprilat was only three- to fivefold more active than enalaprilat. To understand the reasons for such discrepancies between ex vivo effects of ACE inhibitors and in vitro actions of their diacid metabolites, we measured the lipophilicities of the compounds and investigated the possibility that trandolapril could display an ACE inhibitory effect by itself. Trandolaprilat was found to be far more lipophilic than enalaprilat, as shown by reverse-phase high-performance liquid chromatography studies performed at pH 7.4 (log kw7.4 = 1.487 vs. 0.108). In addition, trandolapril was practically as active in vitro as its diacid metabolite (IC50 = 2.5 vs. 1.35 nM) in inhibiting ACE activity in the aorta, whereas enalapril was practically devoid of any effect (IC50 = 240 nM). Measurements of relative affinities of inhibitors or metabolites for purified human renal ACE showed that trandolapril displayed about 20% of the affinity of its diacid metabolite (IC50 = 15 vs. 3.2 nM): enalaprilat affinity (34 nM) was within the same range as those of trandolapril and trandolaprilat, whereas enalapril displayed a very low affinity for the purified enzyme (IC50 μ M). It appears that several factors, including differences in potency of diacid compounds in inhibiting ACE, lipophilicity, and potency of the prodrugs to directly inhibit ACE, may account for the greater potency of trandolapril treatment compared with that of enalapril in decreasing blood pressure and inhibiting tissue ACE activity.