The mechanisms that regulate the development of human physiological cardiac hypertrophy remain poorly understood. The renin-angiotensin system, which is modulated by genetic polymorphism, plays an important role in the regulation of vascular tone and myocardial hypertrophy. Although a few studies have analyzed the association of angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) polymorphism and left ventricular (LV) hypertrophy in isotonic exercise-trained subjects who developed eccentric cardiac hypertrophy, there has been no research done in power athletes who developed concentric cardiac hypertrophy. We have hypothesized that ACE genotypic modulation characteristics may affect LV mass in power athletes. This study included 29 elite Caucasian wrestlers ( mean age, 22.6 years) and 51 age-matched sedentary subjects. According to the absence or presence of the insertion segment in the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) product, the subjects were classified as homozygous deletion-deletion (DD), insertion-insertion (II), or heterozygous insertion-deletion ( ID). The association of LV hypertrophy with ACE gene insertion/deletion (I/D) polymorphism was analyzed. Left ventricular mass and index were determined by echocardiography. Angiotensin-converting enzyme genotyping was performed on peripheral leukocytes using the polymerase chain reaction technique. The study and control group subjects were similar in height and weight. Left ventricular hypertrophy in the athletes was more apparent than in the controls. Angiotensin-converting enzyme genotype II frequency was 17.2% (5) in the athletes, 17.6% (9) in the controls; ID frequency was 51.7% (15) in the athletes, 56.8% (29) in the controls; and the DD frequency was 31% ( 9) in the athletes and 25.4% ( 13) in the controls. Left ventricular mass and mass index were found to be higher in genotype DD (126.2 +/- 2.9 g/m(2)) than genotype II (85.5 +/- 4.0 g/m(2)) or genotype ID (110.1 +/- 2.3 g/m(2)) in the athletes ( P < 0.001). Furthermore, maximal oxygen consumption in genotype DD was found to be higher than in II and ID. An association was found between ACE gene I/D polymorphism and LV hypertrophy in strength-trained athletes.