The presence of pyrraline, a non-oxidative glucose-derived Maillard reaction product in plasma proteins has been established previously. In this study we have investigated the presence of pyrraline in human urine to determine whether pyrraline-containing proteins are metabolized or selectively retained. Pyrraline was detected by means of HPLC, and its presence was confirmed by UV and electrospray-mass spectrometry. The quantification of pyrraline in urine from healthy individuals showed 1.21 +/- 0.4 micrograms/mg creatinine. In urine from diabetic patients, pyrraline levels varied considerably, although the mean level was higher than in healthy subjects (1.37 +/- 0.6 micrograms/mg creatinine). These data further support the presence of a catabolic pathway for advanced non-oxidative Maillard reaction products in vivo and suggest their role in the pathogenesis of diabetes.