We have previously reported an infiltration of renal interstitial gammadelta T cells in Adriamycin-induced progressive glomerulosclerosis in the rat kidney. The TCR repertoire and sequences used by these gammadelta T cells have now been studied. Two injections of Adriamycin 14 days apart caused segmental glomerulosclerosis, massive interstitial infiltration of mononuclear cells, and end-stage renal failure. Flow cytometry of lymphocyte subpopulations with Abs to CD3, the gammadelta TCR, and the alphabeta TCR showed that gammadelta T cells as a proportion of CD3(+) cells were increased in Adriamycin-treated kidneys (8.5 +/- 5.4%), but not in lymph nodes (1.3 +/- 0.4%). A semiquantitative score of glomerular damage (r = 0.65; p < 0.01) and creatinine (r = 0.62; p < 0.01) correlated significantly with the presence of gammadelta T cells. TCR Vgamma repertoire analysis by RT-PCR and Southern blotting showed that Vgamma2 was the dominant subfamily in lymph nodes, whereas Vgamma4 became the predominant subfamily in advanced stages of the rat Adriamycin-treated kidney. Sequencing of the Vgamma4-Jgamma junctional region showed an invariant sequence. The amino acid sequence of the junctional region of the Vgamma4 TCR was the same as the reported mouse canonical Vgamma4 TCR sequence. Analysis of the kidney Vdelta repertoire showed dominant expression of Vdelta1, and sequencing again revealed the selective expression of a canonical Vdelta1 gene. Semiquantitative RT-PCR for cytokine gene expression showed that gammadelta T cells from the kidneys expressed TGF-beta, but not IL-4, IL-10, or IFN-gamma. These results suggest that the predominant gammadelta T cells in the Adriamycin kidney use an invariant Vgamma4/Vdelta1 receptor.