Glomerular filtration rate (GFR, single bolus 51Cr-EDTA technique), serum creatinine, proteinuria and arterial blood pressure have been measured prospectively in 14 young onset insulin-dependent diabetics selected by of persistent proteinuria (greater than 0.5 g/day) secondary to diabetic nephropathy. Twelve of the 14 patients had normal serum creatinine levels. None of the patients received antihypertensive treatment. During the mean observation period of 26 months (range 23 to 33 months) GFR decreased from 107 to 87 ml/min/1.73 m2 (p less than 0.001), serum creatinine remained unchanged: 107 and 112/mumol/l (NS), proteinuria increased from 1.8 to 3.3 g/day (p less than 0.001) and arterial blood pressure rose from 132/88 to 153/101 mmHg (p less than 0.001). Glomerular filtration rate decreased linearly with time (slope = -0.75, r = 0.99, p less than 0.001) by a mean of 0.75 ml/min/month (range 0.1 to 1.5 ml/min/month). The decrease in GFR did not correlate wih sex, age at onset, duration of diabetes, arterial blood pressure, proteinuria, insulin requirement, postprandial blood glucose or the initial GFR in each individual was constant, but varied considerably between patients. Increase in arterial blood pressure to a hypertensive level is an early feature of diabetic nephropathy in young insulin-dependent diabetics.