Obesity is a risk factor for renal damage in native kidney disease and in renal transplant recipients. Obesity is associated with several renal risk factors such as hypertension and diabetes that may convey renal risk, but obesity is also associated with an unfavorable renal hemodynamic profile independent of these factors, and that may exert effects on renal damage as well. In animal models of obesity-associated renal damage, micro-puncture studies showed glomerular hypertension and hyperfiltration. In humans an elevated glomerular filtration rate has been demonstrated in several studies, sometimes associated with hyperperfusion as well, independent of blood pressure or the presence of diabetes. An elevated filtration fraction was found in several studies, consistent with glomerular hypertension. This renal hemodynamic profile resembles the hyperfiltration pattern in diabetes and is therefore assumed to be a pathogenetic factor in renal damage. Of note, the association between body mass index and renal hemodynamics is not limited to overt obesity or overweight, but is also present across the normal range, without a particular threshold. Multiple factors are assumed to contribute to these renal hemodynamic alterations, such as insulin resistance, the renin-angiotensin system and the tubulo-glomerular responses to increased proximal sodium reabsorption, and possibly also inappropriate activity of the sympathetic nervous system and increased leptin levels. Obesity has a high world-wide prevalence. On a population-basis, therefore, its contribution to long-term renal risk may be considerable, especially as it is usually clustered with risk factors like hypertension and insulin-resistance. In short-term studies the renal hemodynamic alterations in obesity and the associated proteinuria were reversible by weight loss, and renin-angiotensin system-blockade, respectively. These interventions are therefore likely to have the potential to limit the renal risks of obesity. Copyright (c) 2006 S. Karger AG, Basel.