Agonists of the type 1 sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P) receptor inhibit lymphocyte migration, causing their sequestration in lymphoid tissue. The S1P agonist FTY720 prolongs the survival of organ allografts and blocks T-cell mediated autoimmune diseases in experimental models; however, it is a non-selective agonist of four of the five S1P receptors. In this study female MRL/lpr mice, which develop an aggressive form of spontaneous autoimmune kidney disease, were treated with a more selective agonist of the type 1 receptor (KRP-203) or vehicle at 12 or 16 weeks of age. Eighty percent of the mice treated at 12 weeks, before the onset of visible disease, survived to the 24 weeks end point with decreased tubulointerstitial disease and significantly fewer infiltrating CD4(+) and CD8(+) T-cells. Only half of the control vehicle-treated mice survived. All of the mice treated at 16 weeks survived with reduced proteinuria. Mice in both groups had significant reductions in circulating lymphocytes. Mice receiving KRP-203 for 8-12 weeks had significant reductions in T-cells and consequently less adenopathy. Ex vivo treatment of lymphocytes from MRL/lpr mice with KRP-203 enhanced their apoptosis. Our study indicates that KRP-203 attenuates kidney injury in MRL/lpr mice, in part, by reducing T-cell infiltrates.