The hydraulic conductivity of a connective tissue is determined both by the fine ultrastructure of the extracellular matrix and the effects of larger particles in the interstitial space. In this study, we explored this relationship by examining the effects of 30- or 90-nm-diameter latex nanospheres or low-density lipoproteins (LDL) on the hydraulic conductivity of Matrigel, a basement membrane matrix. The hydraulic conductivity of Matrigel with latex nanospheres or LDL particles added at 4.8% weight fraction was measured and compared with the hydraulic conductivity of Matrigel alone. The LDL-derived lipids in the gel were visualized by transmission electron microscopy and were seen to have aggregated into particles up to 500 nm in size. The addition of these materials to the medium markedly decreased its hydraulic conductivity, with the LDL-derived lipids having a much larger effect than did the latex nanospheres. Debye-Brinkman theory was used to predict the effect of addition of particles to the hydraulic conductivity of the medium. The theoretical predictions matched well with the results from adding latex nanospheres to the medium. However, LDL decreased hydraulic conductivity much more than was predicted by the theory. The validation of the theoretical model for rigid particles embedded in extracellular matrix suggests that it could be used to make predictions about the influence of particulates (e.g., collagen, elastin, cells) on the hydraulic conductivity of the fine filamentous matrix (the proteoglycans) in connective tissues. In addition, the larger-than-predicted effects of lipidlike particles on hydraulic conductivity may magnify the pathology associated with lipid accumulation, such as in Bruch's membrane of the retina during macular degeneration and the blood vessel wall in atherosclerosis. Copyright © 2008 the American Physiological Society.