Background Angiotensin-converting enzyme ( ACE) insertion/deletion (I/D) polymorphism-related differences in ACE concentration do not result in differences in angiotensin levels. Methods and results To investigate whether this relates to differences in the contribution of the ACE C-domain and N-domain, we quantified, using the C-domain-selective inhibitors quinaprilat and RXPA380, and the N-domain-selective inhibitor RXP407, the contribution of both domains to the metabolism of angiotensin I, bradykinin, the C-domain-selective substrate Mca-BK(1-8), and the N-domain-selective substrate Mca-Ala in serum of IIs, DDs, and 'hyperACE' subjects (i.e., subjects with increased ACE due to enhanced shedding). During incubation with angiotensin I, the highest angiotensin II levels were observed in sera with the highest ACE activity. This confirms that ACE is rate-limiting with regard to angiotensin II generation. C-domain-selective concentrations of quinaprilat fully blocked angiotensin I-II conversion in DDs, whereas additional N-domain blockade was required to fully block conversion in IIs. Both domains contributed to bradykinin hydrolysis in all subjects, and the inhibition profile of RXP407 when using Mca-Ala was identical in IIs and DDs. In contrast, the RXPA380 concentrations required to block C-domain activity when using Mca-BK (1-8) were three-fold higher in IIs than DDs. Conclusion The contributions of the C-domain and N-domain differ between DDs and IIs, and RXPA380 is the first inhibitor capable of distinguishing D-allele ACE from I-allele ACE. The lack of angiotensin II accumulation in DDs in vivo is not because of the often quoted concept that ACE is a nonrate-limiting enzyme. It may relate to the fact that in IIs both the N-domain and C-domain generate angiotensin II, whereas in DDs only the C-domain converts angiotensin.