Glomerular filtration rate (GFR) is the standard measure of renal function and is critical for the management of renal diseases. Rigorous assessment of GFR requires the measurement of renal clearance of a filtration marker, such as inulin. This method, however, is not suitable for routine clinical practice. Labelled compounds as alternative filtration markers provide accurate and precise GFR measurement, but their use may be limited for safety reasons. Thus investigators have proposed clearance procedures using minute doses of non-radioactive contrast agents, including iothalamate and iohexol. Their renal clearance provides similar accuracy as inulin clearance in GFR estimation, but the need of urine collection again poses certain limitations to the procedure. Thus, plasma clearance of suitable exogenous markers, such X-ray contrast media, has been suggested for measuring renal function, in which the elimination rate of the tracer after a single intravenous injection is evaluated. Plasma clearance of these markers estimated by multiple blood samples provides precise information, but repeated sampling makes this method cumbersome. Abbreviated kinetic profiles have been proposed to predict GFR from the plasma disappearance curve. The simplified method that uses a one-compartment model corrected by the Bröchner-Mortensen formula gives an excellent correlation with inulin clearance and is currently employed for measuring GFR in multi-centre clinical trials.