Chronic heart failure is a common condition with a poor prognosis, usually associated with poor exercise tolerance and debilitating symptoms despite optimal modern therapy. Standard therapy includes diuretics, digoxin, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEIs) and β-blockers. Despite this, many patients remain symptomatic, and interest is high as to whether the angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) would offer further advantage to a patient already receiving quadruple therapy. In addition, some patients are intolerant of ACEIs, and for this group the ARBs seem a logical choice. This article reviews the evidence for the use of ARBs as a class in heart failure concentrating on clinical recommendations and clinical needs and evidence rather than purely on statistical issues of significance in trials. The trials to date have demonstrated clearly similar hemodynamic effects to those seen with ACEIs and variety of ancillary benefits such as improvements in endothelial function, anti-thrombotic effects, and effects on neurohormonal inhibition. There is consistent evidence of a preservation of exercise tolerance when patients with heart failure are crossed over from stable ACEI therapy, and when added to ACEIs exercise tolerance appears to increase with ARBs. In terms of major outcomes, the two largest trials, Elite-II and Val-Heft, demonstrate that angiotensin receptor blockers probably have a clinical role in improving mortality and morbidity as an alternative to ACEIs in those patients unable to tolerate these agents, which remain, however, the first choice in unselected patients with heart failure. There is a worrying suggestion of a negative interaction when ARBs are added to β-blockers, which is a reason for caution in using the ARBs, not a reason not to use β-blockers.