The expression of alpha 2; alpha 3; alpha 5; alpha 6-subunits of the beta 1 [very late activation (VLA)] integrin family was studied in kidney specimens using an immunofluorescent technique. 6 specimens from normal kidney were compared with 10 specimens from patients affected by various glomerulopathies [minimal change nephropathy (MCN), membranous nephropathy (MN) and systemic lupus erythematosus nephritis (SLEN)]. On normal glomeruli, alpha 3 was the dominant integrin, being mainly present on podocytes and showing a linear fluorescent pattern codistributed with laminin. In MCN and SLEN, alpha 3 presented a normal pattern. In MN, alpha 3 revealed a trabecular picture on thickened glomerular basement membranes. Moreover, in stage-III MN, a segmental loss of alpha 3-integrin was detected. In our opinion, VLA-3 may offer an interesting approach to the study of the relationships between podocytes and their substrate.