Cross section showing inside a kidney

The kidneys remove waste and extra fluid from the blood through filtering units called nephrons. Each nephron contains a filter, called a glomerulus. Each filter has tiny blood vessels called capillaries. When blood flows into a glomerulus, tiny bits, called molecules, of water, minerals and nutrients, and wastes pass through the capillary walls. Large molecules, such as proteins and red blood cells, do not. The part that's filtered then passes into another part of the nephron called the tubule. The water, nutrients and minerals the body needs are sent back to the bloodstream. The extra water and waste become urine that flows to the bladder.