Protein meals and infusion of amino acids cause an increase of glomerular filtration rate in humans and animals with normal renal function despite the circulating renin concentration remaining unchanged. The renal hemodynamic response is not altered by angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors, but it is obliterated by cyclooxygenase inhibitors. By contrast, chronic exposure to high protein diets raises circulating renin and increases messenger RNA of renin (but not of angiotensinogen) in kidney tissue. Chronically high protein intake raises the glomerular filtration rate and reduces glomerular permselectivity; the reverse is seen with low protein intake. In patients with renal failure, acute amino acid infusion or protein meals cause a paradoxical drop in glomerular filtration rate which is not influenced by converting enzyme inhibitors.