Despite the little known association between renal damage and the acute porphyrias, limited information is available on the characteristics and pathogenesis of renal disease in this patient group. Previous reports have focused on hypertension as the principal etiological factor. We have studied a series of 9 patients with acute intermittent porphyria (AIP) attending the Porphyria Clinic at King's College Hospital, London, UK, who were referred to the Renal Unit for investigation and treatment of their renal disease. No evidence of a glomerular lesion was found in any of the patients. In contrast, renal histology showed features of a tubulointerstitial disease, and there was evidence of impaired erythropoietin production. Hypertension and nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drug use were present in about a half of the patients. It is postulated that the nephrotoxic effects of porphyrin precursors may contribute to the etiology of this clinical syndrome.