HIV-associated nephropathy is a clinicopathologic entity that includes proteinuria, focal segmental glomerulosclerosis often of the collapsing variant, and microcystic tubulointerstitial disease. Increasing evidence supports a role for HIV-1 infection of renal epithelium in the pathogenesis of HIV-associated nephropathy. Using in situ hybridization, we previously demonstrated HIV-1 gag and nef mRNA in renal epithelial cells of patients with HIV-associated nephropathy. Here, to investigate whether renal epithelial cells were productively infected by HIV-1, we examined renal tissue for the presence of HIV-1 DNA and mRNA by in situ hybridization and PCR, and we molecularly characterized the HIV-1 quasispecies in the renal compartment. Infected renal epithelial cells were removed by laser-capture microdissection from biopsies of two patients, DNA was extracted, and HIV-1 V3-loop or gp120-envelope sequences were amplified from individually dissected cells by nested PCR. Phylogenetic analysis of kidney-derived sequences as well as corresponding sequences from peripheral blood mononuclear cells of the same patients revealed evidence of tissue-specific viral evolution. In phylogenetic trees constructed from V3 and gp120 sequences, kidney-derived sequences formed tissue-specific subclusters within the radiation of blood mononuclear cell-derived viral sequences from both patients. These data, along with the detection of HIV-1-specific proviral DNA and mRNA in tubular epithelium cells, argue strongly for localized replication of HIV-1 in the kidney and the existence of a renal viral reservoir.