Obesity increases the risk for developing kidney disease, and protection of kidneys through changes in diet should be investigated. Fish intake has been associated with reduced risk of developing kidney disease; therefore, we wanted to investigate whether cod protein intake could prevent or delay the development of kidney damage in an obese rat model that spontaneously develops proteinuria and focal segmental glomerulosclerosis. The aim of the study was to investigate any effects of cod protein intake on established markers of kidney function, amino acid composition, protein utilisation and growth in obese Zucker fa/fa rats in the early stage of decreased renal function. Male obese Zucker fa/fa rats (HsdOla:Zucker-Lepr) were fed cod muscle proteins in an amount corresponding to 25 % of dietary protein, with the remaining protein from a casein/whey mixture (COD diet). A control group was fed a diet with a casein/whey mixture as the only protein source (CAS diet). The intervention started when rats were 9–10 weeks old, and the rats were fed these diets for 4 weeks. At the end of the study, rats fed the COD diet had lower urine concentration of cystatin C, T-cell immunoglobulin mucin-1 (TIM-1), amino acids, carbamide, uric acid and ammonium and higher concentrations of creatine, trimethylamine N-oxide, 1-methylhistidine and 3-methylhistidine, lower kidney concentration of TIM-1 and showed better growth when compared with the CAS group. To conclude, cod protein may have the potential to delay the development of kidney damage in young obese Zucker rats and to improve protein utilisation and growth.