Glomerular endothelial and mesangial cells may originate from the metanephric mesenchyme. We used the MAb Thy1.1, a mesangial cell marker in the adult rat kidney, and rat endothelial cell markers MAb RECA-1, MAb PECAM-1 (CD31), and MAb Flk-1 as potential markers to characterize the spatial and temporal distribution of mesangial and endothelial cell precursors during nephrogenesis in the rat. At early stages of glomerulogenesis, RECA-1- and Thy1.1-positive cells were detected in the metanephric blastema at 14 days post conception (dpc) embryos and 15 dpc, respectively, with Thy1.1 expression in cells surrounding the ureteric bud. At 17 and 18 dpc, both RECA-1- and Thy1.1-positive cells were found in the cleft of the S-shaped bodies and in the capillary loops of maturing glomeruli. Double staining for BrdU, a marker of proliferation, and for RECA-1 or BrdU and Thy1.1 also localize in the cleft of S-shaped bodies and in glomerular capillary loops at later stages of development. PDGFRbeta co-localizes in cells expressing endothelial or mesangial markers. The data suggest that endothelial and mesangial cell precursors share common markers during the course of glomerulogenesis and that full differentiation of these cells occurs at late stages of glomerular maturation. Thy1.1- and RECA-1-positive cells may be derived from the metanephric blastemal cells at early stages of kidney development. A subpopulation of these Thy1.1- or RECA-1-positive cells may be precursors that can migrate into the cleft of comma and S-shaped bodies and proliferate in situ to form glomerular capillary tufts.