In anesthetized male rats, infusion of glutamine (2 mumol/min) into the superior mesenteric vein at a rate known to induce liver cell swelling leads to marked decreases in renal glomerular filtration rate, renal para-aminohippurate clearance and urinary flow rate. Glutamine infused at identical rates into the jugular vein does not elicit any of these effects. The effect of glutamine is mimicked by serine but not by glutamate. Spinal transection, renal denervation or section of the vagal hepatic nerves abolishes the effect of mesenteric venous glutamine infusion. Mesenteric application of glucagon (1 ng/min) or of both glutamine and glucagon enhances glomerular filtration rate and urinary flow rate. Infusion of 1 ng/min glucagon through the jugular vein does not significantly alter glomerular filtration rate or urinary flow rate. The data disclose a powerful liver-borne mechanism regulating kidney function that is mediated by the hepatorenal innervation.