The purpose of this article is to review critically the assumptions made to predict the effects of different diets on the pH of urine by calculations from food tables and lists of acid or alkaline ash in foods. Acid/alkaline ash calculations were completed for 7 days' worth of omnivore, lacto-ovo, and vegan diets. The vegetarian diets were significantly more alkaline than the omnivore diets, and the vegan diets were more alkaline than lacto-ovo vegetarian diets. The article discusses the history of the acid/alkaline ash concept, assumptions underlying it, mechanisms by which urine is acidified, how the acid/alkaline ash content of diets is calculated from food tables, difficulties arising in acid/ash calculations, and their validity in predicting urine pH. The authors conclude that while diet does influence the pH of urine, present calculation methods are time consuming, imprecise, and do not permit quantitative prediction of urine pH. Better methods for calculating the effects of diet on acid-base balance are needed.