We reviewed any study where 10 or more healthy adults donated a kidney, and proteinuria, or glomerular filtration rate (GFR) was assessed at least 1 year later. Bibliographic databases were searched until November 2005. 31 primary authors provided additional information. Forty-eight studies from 27 countries followed a total of 5048 donors. An average of 7 years after donation (range 1-25 years), the average 24 h urine protein was 154mg/day and the average GFR was 86 ml/min. In eight studies which reported GFR in categories, 12% of donors developed a GFR between 30 and 59 ml/min (range 0-28%), and 0.2% a GFR less than 30 ml/min (range 0-2.2%). In controlled studies urinary protein was higher in donors and became more pronounced with time (three studies totaling 59 controls and 129 donors; controls 83mg/day, donors 147mg/day, weighted mean difference 66mg/day, 95% confidence interval (CI) 24-108). An initial decrement in GFR after donation was not accompanied by accelerated losses over that anticipated with normal aging (six studies totaling 189 controls and 239 donors; controls 96 ml/min, donors 84ml/min, weighted mean difference 10 ml/min, 95% CI 6-15; difference not associated with time after donation (P = 0.2)). Kidney donation results in small increases in urinary protein. An initial decrement in GFR is not followed by accelerated losses over a subsequent 15 years. Future studies will provide better estimates, and identify those donors at least risk of long-term morbidity.