We have retrospectively analyzed the glomerular filtration rate by 125-I iothalamate clearance and creatinine clearance in a group of 661 persons evaluated as potential kidney donors. The average GFR in this population is lower than that reported in previous studies and ranges from 102 +/- 15 and 114 +/- 17 ml/min for males and females age 21-30 to 84 +/- 13 and 79 +/- 15 ml/min for males and females age 51-60. Furthermore, there has been a gradual decrease in GFR in this population from 1970 to 1990 in both the entire population and in those under the age of 40. The cause of this drop is not apparent. These data can be utilized to determine the appropriateness of a potential donor for donation, and may indicate that our current standards are too high.