1. In order to investigate the effects of K+ depletion on renal function, micropuncture studies were performed on anaesthetized rats which had been kept on a K+-deficient diet for 2 weeks; results were compared with those from control animals.
2. In the K+-depleted animals, values for total glomerular filtration rate and single-nephron filtration rate were significantly lower than in controls. Urine osmolality was also reduced; this was associated with reductions in the osmolality, Na+ concentration and K+ concentration of papillary interstitial fluid. No significant difference between urine and papillary osmolality was observed.
3. Fractional reabsorption by the proximal convoluted tubule was enhanced in the K+-depleted animals; end-proximal fluid delivery was markedly reduced.
4. Absolute, but not fractional, delivery of K+ to the beginning of the distal tubule was reduced in the K+-depleted animals. In contrast to observations in control rats, no net secretion of K+ into the distal tubule occurred and there was indirect evidence of K+ reabsorption in the collecting duct.
5. K+ depletion was associated with reductions in the delivery of Na+ and water to early and late regions of the distal tubule, whereas excretion rates of Na+ and water were unaffected.
6. It is suggested that the reduction in Na+ delivery to the loop of Henle (arising from the changes in filtration rate and proximal tubular reabsorption) might contribute to the reduced medullary osmotic concentration observed during K+ depletion. Reductions in fractional reabsorption of Na+ and water in the collecting duct might result from lowered plasma aldosterone levels and the reduced medullary osmolality.