The acute effect of smoking upon arterial blood pressure, urinary albumin excretion rate, glomerular filtration rate and transcapillary escape rate of albumin were investigated in nine normotensive insulin-dependent diabetic patients with microalbuminuria, who had been smoking for 19 (range 4-30) years. In a prospective, open randomized cross-over design, patients were investigated with and without smoking three cigarettes per hour during a 5.5-h period. A rise in systolic blood pressure and heart rate (Takeda TM2420, median (range)) was observed during the smoking day (10(-11 to 14) mmHg and 8 (-1 to 19) beats min-1), compared to the non-smoking day (1 mmHg (-7 to 13) (p = 0.05) and 0 beats min-1 (-2 to 4) (p < 0.01)). Urinary albumin excretion rate (ELISA), glomerular filtration rate (plasma clearance of 51Cr-EDTA) and transcapillary escape rate of albumin (125I-albumin) remained the same with or without smoking. Our study suggests that heavy smoking induces an abrupt rise in systolic blood pressure and heart rate, while vascular leakage of albumin and glomerular filtration rate remain unaltered in normotensive insulin-dependent diabetic patients with microalbuminuria who had been smoking for several years.