The renal excretion of nitrogenous compounds plays an important role not only in the elimination of nitrogen end-products but also in regulating the acid-base and osmotic balance of body fluids. The major nitrogenous compounds excreted by the vertebrate kidney are ammonia, urea and uric acid. The present review addresses the renal excretion of these compounds and, in addition, the amino acid taurine. The functions of excretion; the mechanisms of excretion including renal metabolism, renal handling (secretion, reabsorption, and filtration), and transepithelial transport processes; and the factors regulating these mechanisms are discussed. Renal nitrogen excretion among the vertebrate classes from fish to mammals is compared.