We undertook a preliminary study to determine if a clinical trial was feasible that would compare the effect of a low protein vs a control formula on GFR and growth in infants with congenital renal insufficiency (CIo < 55 ml/min/1.73 m2). In this report from the Infant Diet Protein Study, we describe validation of a method using the plasma clearance of iothalamate (CIo) as an estimate of glomerular filtration rate (GFR) and results of the preliminary study relating to renal function. The plasma CIo method was validated as an accurate estimate of GFR by showing it to be the same as the plasma clearance of inulin (CIn). In the preliminary study infants who qualified for the study were randomly assigned to a low protein or control formula and were followed from 8 to 18 months of age. CIo was measured at 8, 14 and 18 months of age in 21 of the infants and at 8 and 18 months of age in all twenty four infants that entered the study. Average absolute GFR in the 24 infants increased in the 10 month period from 5.3 +/- 2.7 to 7.6 +/- 4.5 ml/min. The percent increase in GFR was no different in infants whose GFR at 8 months of age was severely reduced from those whose GFR was only moderately reduced. When adjusted for age and body size, GFR did not change. Change in mean CIo or serum creatinine (SCr) from 8 to 18 months of age between the infants in each diet groups was not different. We conclude that a clinical trial enrolling more infants and extending the study period is necessary to evaluate dietary protein effect.