Low-protein diet plus ketoacids (LPD+KA) has been reported to decrease proteinuria in patients with chronic kidney diseases (CKD). However, the mechanisms have not been clarified. As over-activation of intrarenal renin–angiotensin system (RAS) has been shown to play a key role in the progression of CKD, the current study was performed to investigate the direct effects of LPD+KA on intrarenal RAS, independently of renal haemodynamics. In this study, 3/4 subtotal renal ablated rats were fed 18 % normal-protein diet (Nx-NPD), 6 % low-protein diet (Nx-LPD) or 5 % low-protein diet plus 1 % ketoacids (Nx-LPD+KA) for 12 weeks. Sham-operated rats fed NPD served as controls. The level of proteinuria and expression of renin, angiotensin II (AngII) and its type 1 receptors (AT1R) in the renal cortex were markedly higher in Nx-NPD group than in the sham group. LPD+KA significantly decreased the proteinuria and inhibited intrarenal RAS activation. To exclude renal haemodynamic impact on intrarenal RAS, the serum samples derived from the different groups were added to the culture medium of mesangial cells. It showed that the serum from Nx-NPD directly induced higher expression of AngII, AT1R, fibronectin and transforming growth factor-β1 in the mesangial cells than in the control group. Nx-LPD+KA serum significantly inhibited these abnormalities. Then, proteomics and biochemical detection suggested that the mechanisms underlying these beneficial effects of LPD+KA might be amelioration of the nutritional metabolic disorders and oxidative stress. In conclusion, LPD+KA could directly inhibit the intrarenal RAS activation, independently of renal haemodynamics, thus attenuating the proteinuria in CKD rats.