Increasing dietary calcium intake decreases urinary oxalate excretion by increasing intestinal precipitation of dietary oxalate as calcium oxalate. This mechanism was speculated to account for the decreased prospective incidence of kidney stones as estimated dietary calcium intake, adjusted for caloric intake, increased among men in a recent large epidemiological study. To further assess the relationship between estimated diet calcium and urinary oxalate, we studied 94 health adults, 50 women and 44 men, ages 20 to 70 years with weights ranging form 47 to 104 kg while they ate their customary diets. Each subject completed a semiquantitative food frequency questionnaire and collected three 24-hour urines preserved with HCl. The urines were collected accurately as judged by a mean intrasubject CV for creatinine excretion of 9.8% and direct relations between urinary creatinine excretion and body wt (r = 0.62; P < 0.0001), or predicted urine creatinine content for sex, age and weight using the Cockcroft and Gault formulas (r = 0.76; P < 0.0001). Estimated diet calcium intake ranged from 6.8 to 68 mmol/day (272 to 2720 mg/day) and averaged 29.5 mmol/day (1180 mg/day). Individual mean urinary oxalate excretion ranged from 0.079 go 0.332 mmol/day (7 to 29 mg/day) and averaged 0.198 mmol/day (17 mg/day). Among all subjects, daily oxalate excretion was directly related to creatinine excretion as an estimate of lean body mass (r = 0.61; P < 0.0001). Thus, oxalate excretion among men averaged 0.228 +/- 0.051 SD mmol/day, a value significantly higher than the average among women of 0.173 +/- 0.045 mmol/day (P < 0.001). Daily urine oxalate excretion/creatinine decreased curvilinearly as estimated dietary Ca intake increased (r = -0.30; P = 0.0035) and as the ratio of estimated dietary calcium to dietary oxalate increased (r = -0.39; P = 0.0001). We conclude that body size is the major determinant of urinary oxalate excretion among healthy adults, presumably reflecting variations in endogenous oxalate synthesis with lean body mass. Increasing estimated diet calcium intake, especially up to the range of 15 to 20 mmol/day (600 to 800 mg/day) has an additional effect to decrease during oxalate excretion, presumably by limiting intestinal absorption of dietary oxalate.