1. The renal clearance of dextran of different molecular sizes has been measured in normal humans from 6 days to 61 years of age. Gel chromatography of dextran has been used for determination of molecular weight distribution.
2. Information about the functional ultrastructure of the glomerular membrane has been deduced from the experimental clearance data in the light of theoretical models. The glomerular membrane was here visualized as a gel filter, localized in the basement membrane. The physical analogue of this membrane was interpreted as a somewhat heteroporous structure of quite well defined pore sizes: one system of smaller pores in the range of 20–28 Å radius and an additional system of larger pores of radii up to 80 Å. These larger pores are quite few in number with an approximate ratio of one large pore per 10 000 small pores.
3. The values obtained for the transglomerular pressure difference were low, about 1 cm of water or less. This supports the concept that tubular reabsorption may be the rate limiting factor in the process of urine formation and may also control the glomerular filtration rate.
4. The changes of the dextran clearance with ageing found in this investigation may be explained by an increase of the pore radii of the glomerular membrane and a concomitant decrease of the transglomerular pressure difference.