1. To investigate the influence of age on the remnant kidney, unilateral nephrectomy was performed in rats at 1 day (group N-0), 2 weeks (group N-2), 4 weeks (group N-4) or 8 weeks (group N-8) of age. Serial changes in urinary protein during 48 weeks after the uninephrectomy and blood chemistries and renal histology at week 48 were compared between the groups.
2. The increase in proteinuria was significantly greater in groups N-0, N-2 and N-4 than in group N-8 from week 32 to week 48 after the uninephrectomy. There was no significant difference in urinary protein between groups N-0, N-2 and N-4. Hypoproteinaemia and hypoalbuminaemia were also more severe in groups N-0, N-2 and N-4 than in group N-8 at week 48.
3. A compensatory renal growth in groups N-0 and N-4 was significantly greater than that in group N-8 at week 48 after the uninephrectomy.
4. Focal and segmental glomerular sclerosis, a characteristic finding in the uninephrectomy groups, was significantly more marked in groups N-0, N-2 and N-4 than in group N-8 at week 48.
5. We conclude that uninephrectomy at young ages leads to increased incidence of glomerular sclerosis in rats compared with uninephrectomy in the adult.