Collapsing focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (cFSGS) is characterized by hyperplasia of glomerular epithelial cells. In a mouse model of FSGS and in a patient with recurrent idiopathic FSGS, we identified the proliferating cells as parietal epithelial cells (PECs). In the present study, we have evaluated the origin of the proliferating cells in cFSGS associated with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and pamidronate. We performed a detailed study of glomerular lesions in biopsies of two patients with HIV-associated cFSGS and a nephrectomy specimen of a patient with pamidronate-associated cFSGS. Glomeruli were studied by serial sectioning using light and electron microscopy and immunohistochemistry to determine the epithelial cell phenotype. We used Synaptopodin, vascular endothelial growth factor, and CD10 as podocyte markers, CK8 and PAX2 as PEC markers and Ki-67 as marker of cell proliferation. The newly deposited extracellular matrix was characterized using antiheparan sulfate single-chain antibodies. The proliferating cells were negative for the podocyte markers, but stained positive for the PEC markers and the cell proliferation marker Ki-67. The proliferating PAX-2 and CK8 positive cells that covered the capillary tuft were always in continuity with PAX-2/CK8 positive cells lining Bowman's capsule. The matrix deposited by these proliferating cells stained identically to Bowman's capsule. Our study demonstrates that PECs proliferate in HIV and pamidronate-associated cFSGS. Our data do not support the concept of the proliferating, dedifferentiated podocyte.