Angiotensin (Ang) II plays important roles in the development of hypertension and cardiovascular and renal injury. Pharmaceutical approaches to block its activity led to the development of angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers. Numerous trials have documented their efficacy in controlling blood pressure, minimising left ventricular remodelling, preventing progression to heart failure, ameliorating proteinuria and retarding renal disease progression. Although they are considered safe in general, there remain concerns about the potential for adverse events in certain target populations. Recently, several novel, low molecular weight renin inhibitors without the extended peptide-like backbone of previous renin inhibitors were developed with favourable pharmacokinetic properties. They have been shown to successfully reduce Ang II levels in normal volunteers and to lower blood pressure in patients with mild-to-moderate hypertension. In this review, the authors summarise current knowledge about these renin inhibitors.