Chronic renal adaptation to dietary deprivation of Pi is accompanied by increased Na+/Pi co-transport across the brush border membrane of the renal proximal tubule. The increased activity of this co-transport system depends on de novo protein synthesis and insulin. The present study used normal and diabetic rats to determine if the endosomal pool of Na+/Pi co-transporters was altered by Pi deprivation and the possible role of insulin. In response to 5 days of dietary Pi deprivation there was a significant increase in endosomal Na+/Pi co-transport in control rats but there was no change in diabetic rats. The increase in endosomal Pi uptake was restored in diabetic rats treated with exogenous insulin. Na(+)-independent Pi uptake and proline uptake remained unchanged in all groups. The changes in endosomal Na+/Pi co-transport correlated with the abundance of the specific Na+/Pi co-transporter protein, as determined by Western blots. The pattern of endosomal changes paralleled that observed in brush border membranes. One possibility consistent with these findings is that the endosomal fraction contains newly synthesized Na+/Pi co-transporters targeted for delivery to the apical brush border membrane. Increased synthesis and delivery is required to maintain the adaptation to chronic Pi deprivation.