Thirteen patients (7 males, 6 females, aged 17-68 years) affected by primary, steroid-resistant, nephrotic syndrome and normal renal function were treated with a vegan, low-protein (0.7 g/kg per day) diet supplemented with essential amino acids and Ketoanalogues (VSD) for 3.9 +/- 2.9 months. These patients were studied at the beginning (following an unrestricted protein diet (UPD) supplying about 1 g/kg per day of mixed proteins) and at the end of VSD period. Urinary protein excretion decreased from 8.7 +/- 2.6 to 5.6 +/- 2.4 g/day (P less than 0.01), serum total cholesterol from 334.6 +/- 97.1 to 275.6 +/- 49.4 mg/dl (P less than 0.05). Serum albumin, HDL-cholesterol, triglycerides, and anthropometric measurements (triceps skinfold thickness and middle arm muscle circumference) did not change. Urinary urea nitrogen decreased from 7.5 +/- 1.8 to 3.8 +/- 1.2 g/day (P less than 0.005), according to dietary prescriptions. Creatinine clearance changed from 104.4 +/- 28.7 to 89.3 +/- 16.7 ml/min (n.s.) and no correlation was found with the changes in urinary protein excretion. This data suggest that VSD reduces proteinuria and exerts favourable effects on hypercholesterolaemia. Protein malnutrition was absent in these patients, probably because of the essential amino acids and ketoanalogues supplementation.