We have undertaken an ultrastructural immunogold investigation of the distribution of type IV collagen and heparan sulphate proteoglycan (HSPG) in glomeruli from the kidneys of one normal control and three patients with diabetes mellitus and proteinuria. The sample included both diffuse and nodular diabetic glomerulosclerosis. In the control and diabetic kidneys, the type IV collagen was present predominantly on the endothelial aspect of the glomerular basement membrane (GBM), and by contrast the HSPG was found mainly on the epithelial side. In the mesangium in both control and diabetic glomeruli, type IV collagen was found predominantly in the central regions, while HSPG was mostly restricted to the region beneath the epithelial cells. Consequently, where there is a marked increase in mesangial matrix with nodule formation in diabetics there is a corresponding increase in the amount of type IV collagen but not of HSPG. Although the three diabetic patients were proteinuric, the HSPG was not decreased in the thickened GBMs.