Assessment of glomerular filtration rate (GFR) with inulin is cumbersome and time-consuming. Radioisotopic filtration markers have been studied as filtration markers because they can be used without continuous intravenous (IV) infusion and because analysis is relatively simple. Although the clearances of 99mTc-diethylenetriamine-pentaacetic acid (DTPA), 169Yb-DTPA, and 125I-iothalamate have each been compared with inulin, rarely has the comparability of radioisotopic filtration markers been directly evaluated in the same subject. To this purpose, we determined the renal clearance of inulin administered by continuous infusion and the above radioisotopic filtration markers administered as bolus injections, simultaneously in four subjects with normal renal function and 16 subjects with renal insufficiency. Subjects were studied twice in order to assess within-study and between-study variability. Unlabeled iothalamate was infused during the second half of each study to assess its effect on clearances. We found that renal clearance of 125I-iothalamate and 169Yb-DTPA significantly exceeded clearance of inulin in patients with renal insufficiency, but only by several mL.min-1.1.73m-2. Overestimation of inulin clearance by radioisotopic filtration markers was found in all normal subjects. No differences between markers were found in the coefficient of variation of clearances either between periods on a given study day (within-day variability) or between the two study days (between-day variability). The true test variability between days did not correlate with within-test variability. We conclude that the renal clearance of 99mTc-DTPA, 169Yb-DTPA, or 125I-iothalamate administered as a single IV or subcutaneous injection can be used to accurately measure GFR in subjects with renal insufficiency; use of the single injection technique may overestimate GFR in normal subjects.