The central pathological feature of human kidney disease that leads to kidney failure is the accumulation of extracellular matrix in glomeruli. Overexpression of transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) underlies the accumulation of pathological matrix in experimental glomerulonephritis. Administration of an antibody raised against TGF-beta to glomerulonephritic rats suppresses glomerular matrix production and prevents matrix accumulation in the injured glomeruli. One of the matrix components induced by TGF-beta, the proteoglycan decorin, can bind TGF-beta and neutralize its biological activity, so decorin may be a natural regulator of TGF-beta (refs 3, 4). We tested whether decorin could antagonize the action of TGF-beta in vivo using the experimental glomerulonephritis model. We report here that administration of decorin inhibits the increased production of extracellular matrix and attenuates manifestations of disease, confirming our hypothesis. On the basis of our results, decorin may eventually prove to be clinically useful in diseases associated with overproduction of TGF-beta.