Current antihypertensive strategies do not take into account that individual characteristics may influence the magnitude of blood pressure (BP) reduction. Guidelines promote trial-and-error approaches with many different drugs. We conducted the Identification of the Determinants of the Efficacy of Arterial blood pressure Lowering drugs (IDEAL) Trial to identify factors associated with BP responses to perindopril and indapamide. IDEAL was a cross-over, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, involving four 4-week periods: indapamide, perindopril and two placebo. Eligible patients were untreated, hypertensive and aged 25-70 years. The main outcome was systolic BP (SBP) response to drugs. The 112 participants with good compliance had a mean age of 52. One in every three participants was a woman. In middle-aged women, the SBP reduction from drugs was -11.5 mm Hg (indapamide) and -8.3 mm Hg (perindopril). In men, the response was significantly smaller: -4.8 mm Hg (indapamide) and -4.3 (perindopril) (P for sex differences 0.001 and 0.015, respectively). SBP response to perindopril decreased by 2 mm Hg every 10 years of age in both sexes (P=0.01). The response to indapamide increased by 3 mm Hg every 10 years of age gradient in women (P=0.02). Age and sex were important determinants of BP response for antihypertensive drugs in the IDEAL population. This should be taken into account when choosing drugs a priori.