Chronic volume depletion by dietary salt restriction causes marked decrease in glomerular filtration rate (GFR) with little increase in urine osmolality in angiotensinogen gene null mutant (Agt-/-) mice. Moreover, urine osmolality is insensitive to both water and vasopressin challenge. In contrast, in normal wild-type (Agt+/+) mice, GFR remains remarkably constant and urine osmolality is adjusted promptly. Changes in volume status also cause striking divergence in renal structure between Agt-/- and Agt+/+ mice. Thus, in contrast to the remarkably stable glomerular size of Agt+/+ mice, glomeruli of Agt-/- mice are atrophied during a low salt and hypertrophied during a high salt diet. Moreover, the renal papilla, a structure unique to mammals and essential for urine diluting and concentrating mechanisms, is hypoplastic in Agt-/- mice. Thus, angiotensin is essential for the two fundamental homeostatic functions of the mammalian kidney, namely stable GFR and high urine diluting and concentrating capacity during alteration in extracellular fluid (ECF) volume. This is not only accompanied by angiotensin's tonic effects on renal vasomotor tone and tubule transporters, but also accomplished through its capacity to affect the structure of both the glomerulus and the papilla directly or indirectly.