BACKGROUND: We have reported that human mononuclear leukocytes contain large amounts of angiotensin II (Ang II). The goal of the present study was to test the hypothesis that Ang II is present in monocyte/macrophages in atherosclerotic lesions. METHODS AND RESULTS: Segments of thoracic aorta and left circumflex coronary artery were obtained from 3 groups of cynomolgus monkeys: normal, atherosclerotic, and regression. Samples of human coronary arterial atherosclerotic lesions were obtained from directional atherectomy. Sections were stained for Ang II with 3 different polyclonal rabbit anti-human Ang II antisera. In aorta and coronary arteries from normal monkeys, there was no or minimal anti-Ang II staining in endothelial cells. All sections from atherosclerotic monkeys displayed discrete, localized regions of staining for Ang II in intima-media. Macrophages were present throughout the atherosclerotic intima-media, and anti-Ang II staining appeared to colocalize with macrophages. All human coronary atherectomy samples stained positive for Ang II and macrophages. Staining for both Ang II and macrophages was observed in vascular lesions from all 5 monkeys after regression of atherosclerosis, but staining was less extensive than in atherosclerotic blood vessels from monkeys. CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that Ang II is present in atherosclerotic lesions in monkeys and humans, colocalizes with macrophages in intima-media of atherosclerotic vessels from monkeys, and decreases in lesions in monkeys with regression of atherosclerosis.