The plasma protein binding of theophylline was measured in 21 patients with renal disease and 21 healthy age and sex matched controls. The percentage of theophylline unbound to plasma was greater in patients with nephrotic syndrome and in chronic renal failure than in controls. In nephrotic syndrome the impairment of drug binding mirrored the marked degree of hypoalbuminaemia seen in this condition but in chronic renal failure the impairment of protein binding was greater than would be expected from the plasma albumin concentration changes. The percentage of theophylline free in plasma in renal disease may be increased (by as much as 50%). Such changes should be taken into account in interpreting the relationship between total plasma theophylline concentration and drug effect in renal disease.