The origin of crescent-forming cells in crescentic glomerulonephritis has not been clarified in spite of the application of monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) against glomerular epithelial cells or monocytes/macrophages. This study was undertaken to characterize the cellular composition of crescents using a new marker, mAb OS-3, produced against macrophagic cells derived from podocytes in normal rat glomerular culture. Monoclonal antibody OS-3 was confirmed to be reactive with some normal epithelial cells of Bowman's capsule. Female Wistar Kyoto rats were injected with rabbit antiglomerular basement membrane (GBM) serum and killed at 2 h, 1, 3, 7, 14 days and 2 months, respectively. The mAb OS-3-positive cells were segmentally observed in glomeruli at 3 days, increased at 14 days, but decreased at 2 months. These cells lacked reactivity with antipodocalyxin in double immunofluorescence (IF) staining. In immunoelectron microscopy of a glomerulus on day 3 and 7, however, reaction products were observed within cells located on the outer surface of the GBM, which were considered to be podocyte in terms of its localization. In conclusion, we have shown a possibility that damaged podocytes partly constitute crescent-forming cells with phenotypic changes, visualized by positive staining with mAb OS-3. We propose a novel concept of crescent formation, suggesting that crescents may be partly composed of phenotypically changed cells, which could not be detected by typical markers for glomerular epithelial cells or monocytes/macrophages.