Glomerular filtration rate (iothalamate clearance) was measured serially for 48 months in 26 Pima Indians with impaired glucose tolerance and 27 with normal glucose tolerance. At baseline, the mean glomerular filtration rate (SEM) was 133+/-8 ml/min in subjects with impaired glucose tolerance and 123+/-5 ml/min in those with normal glucose tolerance (p = 0.12). In the 12 subjects with impaired glucose tolerance who progressed to Type II (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes during follow-up, mean glomerular filtration rate increased by 30% (p = 0.011). Among the remaining 14 subjects with impaired glucose tolerance, 12 reverted to normoglycaemia. The glomerular filtration rate both at baseline and after 48 months in this subgroup exceeded the values of subjects with normal glucose tolerance by 20 % (p = 0.008) and 14% (p=0.013), respectively. A pronounced rise in the glomerular filtration rate occurs at the onset of Type II diabetes but a trend to hyperfiltration is also present in those with impaired glucose tolerance.