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We have recently developed a micropuncture technique to assess repeatedly function of the same nephrons in chronic renal disease and subsequently examine the morphology of their glomeruli by serial thin-section histological analysis. Using this approach, a potential causal linkage between early functional patterns and late structural abnormalities was examined in glomeruli of two established rat models of glomerular sclerosis. The models are (a) puromycin aminonucleoside (PAN) administration in unilaterally nephrectomized Munich-Wistar rats and (b) adriamycin (ADM) treatment in nonnephrectomized Munich-Wistar rats. Single nephron GFR (SNGFR) and glomerular capillary hydraulic pressure (PGC) were measured repeatedly for 8 (PAN rats) or 31 wk (ADM rats). In all animals studied, values for PGC remained at, or slightly below, levels measured before PAN or ADM administration. SNGFR values declined progressively in all glomeruli in PAN rats. Although some glomeruli in ADM rats had an increase in SNGFR above levels observed in nonnephrectomized control rats, these hyperfiltering glomeruli did not have abnormally high PGC nor did they exhibit glomerular sclerosis at the completion of the study. Histological analysis revealed the existence of a significant inverse correlation between the degree of sclerosis and SNGFR assessed at the time of sacrifice in both PAN and ADM groups. Chronic administration of captopril, an angiotensin I converting enzyme inhibitor, in PAN rats substantially attenuated development of glomerular sclerosis without affecting PGC in earlier stages. The observations in these models indicate that glomerular hyperfiltration and hypertension are not required for the development of glomerular sclerosis in renal diseases, and angiotensin I converting enzyme inhibitor can exert its protective effect independently of its effect on glomerular capillary pressure.