In order to evaluate the effects of uremia and low levels of dietary phosphorus on bone, male Sprague-Dawley rats weighing 320 +/- 20 g (12 weeks old) were subjected to either a two-step, subtotal nephrectomy or sham-operation (SO), and then fed a custom diet with either normal calcium (0.5%) and normal phosphorus (0.3%) (NCNP), or normal calcium and low phosphorus (0.03%). When compared to the NCNP SO group after seven days, only uremic rats fed low phosphorus diets developed osteomalacia characterized by an increase in the osteoid thickness, surface and volume, a prolonged osteoid maturation time, and a decreased bone formation rate. No other groups developed these changes. This osteomalacia was also associated with hypophosphatemia, a reduced serum PTH and an elevation in the serum 1,25(OH)2D3. It was concluded that while neither this degree of uremia nor the low phosphorus diets alone had any significant effect, the combination of uremia and low dietary phosphorus resulted in the initiation of osteomalacia. This animal model should prove useful in investigations dealing with the influence of uremia on the mineralization process.