Southern Asians in the UK have a substantially increased (50%) risk of coronary heart disease compared with the general population, in part due to a high prevalence of hypertension and diabetes. This patient group has not been specifically studied in a clinical trial using modern antihypertensive therapy such as the angiotensin II receptor antagonists (AIIRAs). A multi-centre, double-blind, randomised, parallel-group study compared the effects of treatment with valsartan 80 mg once daily (o.d.) with control therapy (bendrofluazide 2.5 mg o.d.) in 116 patients with mild hypertension (diastolic blood pressure [DBP] ≥ 90 mmHg and ≤ 105 mmHg) after a four-week run-in period. Sitting blood pressure was measured at baseline (end of run-in) and after four and eight weeks of treatment using the OMRON automatic oscillometric blood pressure monitor. The study medication dosage was doubled if patients had < 4 mmHg decrease in DBP after four weeks. Compared with the control group (n=62), the addition of valsartan 80/160 mg o.d. (n=51) resulted in a significantly greater reduction in blood pressure at eight weeks (mean change in blood pressure -15.6 mmHg [95% CI -19.9 to -11.2 mmHg] for systolic blood pressure [SBP] and -9.3 mmHg [95% CI -11.8 to -6.8 mmHg] for DBP; p<0.001). Both treatments were well tolerated. Valsartan is effective and well tolerated, and would be an appropriate treatment option in Southern Asian hypertensive patients.