Energy intake and renal function decrease with age. In patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD), spontaneous food intake decreases in parallel with the loss of renal function. The objective of the present study was to evaluate a possible relationship between renal dysfunction and energy intake in elderly community-dwelling men. A cross-sectional study including 1087 men aged 70 years from the Uppsala Longitudinal Study of Adult Men (ULSAM) community-based cohort was carried out. Dietary intake was assessed using 7 d food records, and glomerular filtration rate was estimated from serum cystatin C concentrations. Energy intake was normalised by ideal body weight, and macronutrient intake was energy-adjusted. The median normalised daily energy intake was 105 (interquartile range 88–124) kJ, and directly correlated with estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) as determined by univariate analysis. Across the decreasing quartiles of eGFR, a significant trend of decreasing normalised energy intake was observed (P =0·01). A multivariable regression model including lifestyle factors and co-morbidities was used for predicting total energy intake. In this model, regular physical activity (standardised β = 0·160; P =0·008), smoking (standardised β = − 0·081; P =0·008), hypertension (standardised β = − 0·097; P =0·002), hyperlipidaemia (standardised β = − 0·064; P =0·037) and eGFR (per sd increase, standardised β = 0·064; P =0·04) were found to be independent predictors of energy intake. Individuals with manifest CKD (eGFR < 60 ml/min per 1·73 m2) were more likely to have lower energy intake than those without. In conclusion, there was a direct and independent correlation between renal function and energy intake in a population-based cohort of elderly men. We speculate on a possible link between renal dysfunction and malnutrition in the elderly.