Carnitine homeostasis in humans is maintained by dietary carnitine intake, a modest rate of endogenous carnitine synthesis, and efficient conservation of carnitine by the kidney. To assess the effect of dietary carnitine on the efficiency of carnitine reabsorption in humans, rates of carnitine excretion and reabsorption, indexed to the glomerular filtration rate, were determined over a range of plasma free and total carnitine concentrations in 12 strict vegetarians before and after dietary carnitine supplementation (0.248 mmol/d). This amount of dietary carnitine supplementation did not significantly increase plasma carnitine concentration and did not alter the glomerular filtration rate. At normal physiological plasma carnitine concentrations, the rate of carnitine excretion was increased and the rate of carnitine reabsorption was decreased by carnitine supplementation. We conclude that the kidney adapts to carnitine intake by reducing the efficiency of carnitine reabsorption.