On the first of three consecutive days of canoe and kayak finals west of London, Germany won a medal in all four events.
Brendel, European champion each of the last three years, won with a time of 3 minutes, 47.176 seconds. He defeated two-time Olympic medalist David Cal Figueroa of Spain by 0.877 of a second. Cal Figueroa won the event at the Athens Games in 2004.
Mark Oldershaw of Canada finished third.
Germany also had a silver and two bronze medals in Wednesday's racing while both of the medals won by Hungary were gold ones.
The Hungarian team of Gabriella Szabo, Danuta Kozak, Katalin Kovacs and Krisztina Fazekas won the women's fours kayak race over 500 meters ahead of squads from Germany and Belarus.
Hungary finished four-tenths of a second in front of the Germans.
The other victory for Hungary came in the men's 1,000-meter double kayak race, won by Rudolf Dombi and Roland Kokeny. It was the closest race of the day with the Hungarians defeating Fernando Pimenta and Emanuel Silva of Portugal by 0.053 of a second. Portugal's medal was its first of these Olympics.
Germany's Martin Hollstein and Andreas Ihle finished third.
The other gold medal, awarded in men's 1,000-meter single kayaking, went to Eirik Veras Larsen of Norway -- gold medalist in 2004 and winner of the silver medal in Beijing. He finished .708 of a second in front of Canada's Adam van Koeverden.
Max Hoff of Germany took the bronze.