The effects of insulin upon renal magnesium excretion were examined. Urinary magnesium excretion rates were measured in seven healthy volunteers (three men, four women) before and during a euglycaemic, hyperinsulinaemic clamp. Insulin was infused at 120 pmol m-2 min-1 and at 240 pmol m-2 min-1. Compared to baseline, the renal magnesium excretion increased 30% during the infusion of insulin at a rate of 120 pmol m-2 min-1. During infusion of insulin, 240 pmol m-2 min-1, renal magnesium excretion increased 50% compared to baseline. There were no changes in either glomerular filtration rates, plasma magnesium, urinary volume or general changes in the renal handling of divalent ions as judged by an unchanged urinary excretion rate of calcium (0% during infusion of insulin, 120 pmol m-2 min-1, and 8% increase during infusion of 240 pmol m-2 min-1 (NS). During the 120 pmol m-2 min-1 insulin infusion rate, plasma insulin rose from 46.1 pmol I-1 to 158.8 pmol I-1 and during the 240 pmol m-2 min-1 insulin infusion rate, mean plasma insulin concentration was 361.4 pmol I-1. Thus, physiological concentrations of insulin induce a specific increase in the renal excretion of magnesium. This might partly explain the magnesium depletion observed in various hyperinsulinaemic states, diabetes mellitus, atherosclerosis, hypertension, and obesity.