Renal allograft recipients treated with cyclosporine (CsA) have increased renal vascular resistance that falls when CsA is stopped. With the aim of identifying whether CsA-treated patients with excellent renal function also have an alteration in renal vascular tone and to investigate which vessels are affected, we have studied the response of GFR and effective renal plasma flow (ERPF) to an infusion of an amino acid solution in a group of 9 CsA-treated renal transplant recipients with a normal plasma creatinine concentration (104 +/- 3.8 mumol/L [mean +/- SEM]). A similar group of 9 azathioprine-treated patients with good renal function (91 +/- 3.6 mumol/L) were used as controls. The azathioprine group had significant increases in both GFR (22%, P less than 0.05) and ERPF (19%, P less than 0.05) following a protein load, whereas there was no increase in either function in the CsA group. Amino acid infusions increase GFR and ERPF in normal kidneys--at least in part by producing afferent glomerular arteriolar dilatation. The difference we found between the two groups indicates a direct effect of cyclosporine on intrarenal vascular tone, even when renal function is considered to be normal.