The contribution of the renin-angiotensin system to the cardiovascular response to exercise was studied in 12 patients with congestive heart failure. The haemodynamic effects of captopril were measured at rest and during supine bicycle exercise. After captopril administration, resting systemic vascular resistance fell by 26.6% and mean blood pressure by 16.7% and cardiac index increased by 19.7%. During exercise, captopril decreased systemic vascular resistance by 25.6% and mean blood pressure by 8.2% and increased cardiac index by 24.4%. Pulmonary wedge pressure fell by 25% at rest but was not altered by captopril during exercise. Pretreatment plasma renin activity increased from 13.4(16.0) ng/ml/hr (10.3(12.3) mmol/l/hr) at rest to 20.0(27.8) ng/ml/hr (15.4(21.4) mmol/l/hr) during exercise. Pretreatment plasma noradrenaline concentration increased from 659(433) pg/ml (39(25.6) nmol/l) at rest to 2622(1486) pg/ml during exercise (155(88) nmol/l). Captopril favourably alters systemic vascular resistance and cardiac index during exercise in patients with congestive heart failure. This may reflect inhibition of the increased activity of the renin-angiotensin system during exercise in these patients and a subsequent reduction in systemic vasoconstriction.