We measured plasma inactive renin (prorenin) levels in 46 diabetic patients, 4 nondiabetic patients with idiopathic autonomic dysfunction, and 115 normal subjects. Plasma inactive renin levels were normal in the diabetic patients who had no complications (n = 6) and in those with microvascular disease (n = 8) who did not have coexistent autonomic dysfunction. Plasma inactive renin was either grossly elevated or in the upper limit of the normal range in diabetic patients with autonomic dysfunction (n = 18). No correlation was found between plasma inactive renin and glycemic control, as measured by hemoglobin A1c. High plasma inactive renin levels were also found in the 4 nondiabetic patients with idiopathic autonomic dysfunction. These data suggest that increased plasma inactive renin levels in diabetic patients are a consequence of coexistent autonomic dysfunction. This finding is consistent with other evidence that suggests autonomic regulation of the processing of prorenin to renin within the kidney.