Increments in dietary protein intake can increase glomerular filtration rate (GFR) in humans, and the glomerular hyperfiltration induced by high protein intake has been incriminated in the progression of glomerulosclerosis related to age and a number of renal diseases. GFR (as 51Cr-EDTA clearance) was measured in 18 vegans, 16 lactovegetarians and 18 omnivorous control subjects, matched for age. Omnivores ate significantly more total protein and protein of animal origin than the other two groups. Vegetable protein comprised 100% of the vegans' daily protein intake and 64% of the lactovegetarians', both significantly higher than the omnivores' (32%). Vegans and lactovegetarians also ate more carbohydrate and fibre than omnivores, although fat intake was similar. Mean GFR was significantly lower in the vegans than in the omnivores (100 +/- 13 vs. 113 +/- 16 ml/min/1.73 m2; p less than 0.04) and was intermediate in the lactovegetarians (105 +/- 16 ml/min/1.73 m2). Omnivores had significantly higher mean urinary albumin excretion rate (p less than 0.05) than vegans, and higher mean diastolic blood pressure than both vegans and lactovegetarians (p less than 0.01). The vegan diet is associated with glomerular and systemic haemodynamic changes which may be beneficial in the prevention of glomerular sclerotic changes in health and disease.