Adenosine is produced by renal tissue and has potent effects on renal blood flow and its distribution, glomerular filtration rate (GFR), and the secretion of renin. Intrarenal infusion of adenosine decreases GFR primarily by decreasing glomerular hydrostatic pressure through its effects in increasing afferent arteriolar resistance and possibly decreasing efferent arteriolar resistance. The fall in GFR due to adenosine is accompanied by little change or an increase in total organ blood flow. Regional renal blood flow during adenosine infusion is redistributed, with a greater percentage of total flow going to the juxtamedullary cortex. Intrarenal adenosine produces marked decreases in water and sodium excretion that are proportionally greater than its effect on GFR, suggesting a possible direct tubular action. Intrarenal adenosine also produces a rapid and pronounced inhibition of renin release that appears to be independent of its hemodynamic or tubular effects. A metabolic hypothesis for the control of glomerular filtration rate and renin release with adenosine acting as a mediator is considered, and criteria for establishing an intrarenal role for adenosine in the regulation of renal function are discussed.