The kidney plays an important role in the metabolism of proteins and peptides. Current evidence indicates that only the proximal tubule possesses the mechanism for degradation or transport of these substances and reabsorption of metabolic products. Proteins and large polypeptides filtered at the glomerulus are absorbed from proximal tubular fluid by luminal endocytosis into apical vacuoles. These fuse with primary lysosomes, where hydrolysis occurs followed by diffusion of metabolites out of the cells and into the blood. Recent evidence indicates that small linear peptides are handled by a different mechanism. It is likely that small peptides are degraded at the luminal surface of the brush border of proximal tubules, which contains many hydrolytic enzymes, by the process of membrane or contact digestion with reabsorption of the breakdown products. The probable biological significance of proximal tubular mechanisms for handling of proteins and peptides are conservation of amino acids, inactivation of toxic substances, and participation in the regulation of the circulating level of protein and peptide hormones.