Creatinine clearance inaccurately estimates true glomerular filtration rate (GFR) because of tubular secretion of creatinine. We studied the ability of oral cimetidine, a blocker of tubular creatinine secretion, to improve the accuracy of measuring creatinine clearance. Clearances of inulin and endogenous creatinine were simultaneously measured in 16 patients with renal disease before administration of cimetidine and during 8 successive 3 h clearance periods with cimetidine 400 mg as priming dose followed by 200 mg every 3 h. At baseline, creatinine relative to inulin clearance (ClC/Cll) ranged from 1.14 to 2.27. With cimetidine, ClC/Cll approached unity in 8 patients (mean 1.02 [SD 0.03]), but considerably exceeded unity in 8 others (1.33 [0.14]). Plasma cimetidine/creatinine ratio was smaller in this second group, due to significantly higher renal clearance of cimetidine (333  vs 165  ml/min, p = 0.01). In a further study, cimetidine dose and, consequently plasma cimetidine concentration, was increased in 6 additional patients who had incomplete inhibited previously. This increased dose completely inhibited tubular creatinine secretion in the third until the sixth hour, so that creatinine clearance equalled GFR. Provided an adequate dose of cimetidine is given, 24 h creatinine clearance during administration of drug measures GFR accurately in patients with renal disease. However, because of the maximum daily dose of cimetidine that is advised, short clearance times (3 h) are recommended.