Little is known about the effects of common antihypertensive drugs in obese, insulin-resistant females. Nine-month-old obese female SHHF/Mcc-fncp rats that received either nifedipine, a calcium channel antagonist, or enalapril, an angiotensin-converting-enzyme inhibitor, for three months were compared with untreated SHHF/Mcc-facp rats (controls). After one month, nifedipine significantly decreased body weight in obese females compared to either enalapril or controls. After three months of treatment, total, abdominal, and subcutaneous fat masses were decreased in obese females given nifedipine compared to either enalapril or controls. Enalapril treatment was associated with a redistribution of fat mass from abdominal to subcutaneous depots. Nifedipine reduced plasma triglyceride and fasting glucose levels and improved insulin response to an oral glucose load in obese females, whereas enalapril did not appear to affect glycemic control. Systolic pressure was not significantly decreased until after two months of treatment with nifedipine or three months of treatment with enalapril in obese females and may have coincided with improvement in insulin-resistance. Similarly, plasma atrial natriuretic peptide concentrations were significantly lower in obese females given nifedipine. To determine how obese males responded to a calcium channel antagonist, six-month-old obese male SHHF/Mcc-facp rats were treated for three months with either nifedipine or placebo (controls). Nifedipine-treated obese males showed a mild but significant decrease in weight gain that was due to a decrease in fat deposition in both subcutaneous and abdominal depots and systolic blood pressure was significantly reduced after one month of treatment. Nifedipine did not affect other plasma biochemical parameters in obese males. In conclusion, nifedipine improved systolic pressure and glycemic control in obese female SHHI;/Mcc-facp rats, effects that may be associated with a marked loss in body weight and fat mass and improved lipid metabolism. Nifedipine-treated obese males exhibited only a diminished weight gain that was not associated with changes in diabetic characteristics.