An estimate of glomerular filtration rate has been derived for children from body length (L, in centimeters) and plasma creatinine (Pcr, in milligrams per deciliter): GFR = 0.55 L/Pcr. The near universality of this estimate in children led us to seek a similar formula for estimating GFR in full-term infants during the first year of life. We measured Pcr in 137 healthy infants and performed creatinine clearance (Ccr) studies in 63 of them aged greater than or equal to 5 days. Beyond the first week, Pcr averaged 0.39 +/- 0.01 (0.10 SD) mg/dl. The estimate of GFR from 0.55 L/Pcr overestimated Ccr by 24% (P less than 0.001). Based on the calculation of a new constant from Ccr X Pcr/L, GFR was more accurately estimated from 0.45 L/Pcr (mean difference of Ccr - 0.45 L/Pcr = -0.4 +/- 3.7 (SE) ml/min X 1.73 m2) in full-term infants between 1 and 52 weeks of age. Because the constant 0.45 and Pcr do not change significantly during this period, GFR can be approximated at the bedside from body length of the healthy full-term infant (GFR = 0.45 L/0.39 = 1.1 L).