This study seeks to define the glomerular changes that are associated with human BK virus nephropathy (BKVN). It is based on histopathologic review of 124 biopsies showing light-microscopic changes of viral nephropathy. The diagnosis of BKVN was confirmed by immunohistochemistry or by in situ hybridization. Histological lesions were scored by the Banff 97 criteria for renal allograft pathology and were correlated with clinical parameters. Viral cytopathic effect in the parietal Bowman's capsular epithelium was seen in 21/124 (17%) biopsies. Immunohistochemistry showed infection of Bowman's capsular epithelium in an additional 15/124 (12%) biopsies. Crescents were found in 15/124 (12%) samples. Glomerulitis exceeding grade Banff g1 was only occasionally shown (4/124=3% biopsies). Other pathologic lesions documented include mild increase in mesangial matrix in 23% biopsies, aneurysmal dilatation of glomerular capillaries in 28%, ischemic glomerulopathy in 62%, and chronic transplant glomerulopathy graded as mild (cg1) in 62% of biopsies and as moderate (cg2) in 2/124 (1.9%) biopsies. These findings show that infection of the glomerular epithelium cells can occur in a subset of patients with BKVN, most often in biopsies with high viral load in the tubular epithelium. Isolated crescents can occur in BKVN biopsies, but rapidly progressive glomerulonephritis is not observed. Two biopsies showed electron-dense deposits on ultrastructural examination, but a cause and effect relationship to BK virus infection could not be established.