Glomerulonephritis (GN), the major worldwide cause of chronic renal disease and renal failure, shows a wide spectrum of histological patterns, severity of injury and clinical outcomes that may be related to the nature of the nephritogenic immune response. In the majority of cases, there is evidence of a central role for cognate immunity in the initiation of human GN and contributions of both humoral and cellular effector mechanisms have been demonstrated in both humans and in animal models. T helper cell subsets are known to activate different immune effector mechanisms which influence disease outcomes in infectious and autoimmune diseases and evidence is now accumulating that Th1 and Th2 subsets direct diverging effector pathways that lead to different patterns and severity of glomerular injury in GN. Th1-predominant responses appear to be associated strongly with proliferative and crescentic forms of GN that result in severe renal injury, while Th2 responses are associated with membranous patterns of injury. The challenge remains to understand fully the relevance of T helper cell subset responses to the spectrum of human GN and to apply this new knowledge to the development of more potent and selective therapeutic strategies.