Following ureteral obstruction there is a progressive fall in glomerular filtration rate (GFR) due to a reduction in single nephron glomerular filtration rate (SNGFR) and a reduced number of filtering nephrons. Renal plasma flow also declines after a transient, prostaglandin-dependent increase, due to afferent and efferent arteriolar vasoconstriction. The vasoactive hormones thromboxane A2 and angiotensin II are implicated in the pathogenesis of the vasoconstriction following ureteral obstruction and they also reduce the glomerular ultrafiltration coefficient by causing mesangial contraction. Ureteral obstruction also leads to profound changes in renal tubular cell function. These include altered sodium and water handling resulting in a post-obstructive diuresis and natriuresis and a failure to dilute or concentrate the urine. Potassium and divalent cation exchange is also affected, as is urinary acidification. Furthermore, the response of the tubule to hormones such as antidiuretic hormone and parathyroid hormone is impaired. The pathophysiology of these alterations in renal function is discussed.