1. Glomerular filtration rate and sequential tubular function were investigated in 18 adult renal transplant recipients and in their matched, adult living-related kidney donors before and 5 days after transplantation/uninephrectomy. At day 54, 13 donors and 11 recipients were re-investigated. Sixteen of these constituted eight matched pairs. This reduction in the study population was caused by the application of two withdrawal criteria.
2. In the recipients glomerular filtration rate was unchanged at day 5 and had increased to 61 ml/min at day 54 (P < 0.05). In the donors glomerular filtration rate had increased to 59 ml/min by day 5 (P < 0.01) and was unchanged at day 54.
3. In the recipients lithium clearance was unchanged at day 5 and had increased to 23 ml/min at day 54 (P < 0.01). In the donors the lithium clearance had increased by day 5 (P < 0.01).
4. In the recipients the absolute proximal fluid reabsorption rate was about 36 ml/min throughout the study period. In the donors the absolute proximal fluid reabsorption rate had increased to 42 ml/min by day 5 (P < 0.05) and increased further to 44 ml/min by day 54 (P < 0.01).
5. In the recipients sodium clearance increased from 0.54 ml/min to 2.10 ml/min at day 54 (P < 0.01). In the donors it increased from 0.64 ml/min to 0.99 ml/min at day 54 (P < 0.05).
6. Donor-recipient comparison showed that at day 54 there was no significant difference with regard to glomerular filtration rate, lithium clearance, absolute and fractional proximal fluid reabsorption rate and absolute distal sodium reabsorption rate. The sodium clearance was higher and the fractional distal sodium reabsorption rate was lower in the recipients.
7. In conclusion, the difference in function between donors and recipients at day 5 can probably be explained by the damaging effect of many inevitable factors on the graft. Fifty-four days after transplantation the function of the graft could not be distinguished from that of the remaining kidney. This suggests that the ideal homograft possesses a normal potential for compensatory hypertrophy once the effects of the initial post-operative ischaemia and toxic factors have subsided.