Low molecular weight proteins are of interest in children because their increased urinary excretion is a sign of renal tubular disease and their increased plasma concentration is inversely related to glomerular filtration rate. These proteins include beta 2-microglobulin (B2M), retinol-binding protein (RBP), alpha 1-microglobulin (A1M) and lysozyme. B2M is unstable in acid urine, in contrast to RBP and A1M which are more stable. Any increase in the urinary excretion of B2M or RBP is highly specific for tubular disease, whereas increased excretion of A1M may be seen with glomerular proteinuria. Areas of clinical application include tubular and glomerular diseases, detection of drug toxicity, reflux nephropathy, birth asphyxia and insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. Methods of sample collection and analysis of these proteins are discussed.