The angiotensin type 2 receptor is one of two major angiotensin II receptors that has been identified, cloned and sequenced. The other major receptor, the angiotensin type 1 receptor, is thought to mediate most of the biological responses to the peptide. The angiotensin type 2 receptor is expressed heavily in fetal tissues, but only at a low level in the adult. Documented angiotensin type 2 receptor expression sites in the adult include kidney, heart and mesenteric blood vessels. The function of the angiotensin type 2 receptor is just beginning to be explored. Most of the evidence suggests that the angiotensin type 2 receptor mediates a vasodilator signalling cascade that includes bradykinin, nitric oxide and cyclic guanosine 5-monophosphate. At least some of the beneficial actions of angiotensin type 1 receptor blockade, such as hypotension, are mediated by stimulation of the angiotensin type 2 receptor. Several recent papers suggest that angiotensin type 2 receptors, presumably located in systemic blood vessels, mediate vasodilation and hypotension. The angiotensin type 2 receptor may be a new therapeutic target and candidate gene for the pathophysiology of hypertension.