Transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) has a pivotal function in the progression of renal fibrosis in a wide variety of renal diseases. Smad proteins have been identified to have an important function in regulating the expression of extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins through TGF-beta signaling pathway. Aberrant TGF-beta/Smad signaling can be modulated by stabilization of microtubules with paclitaxel. In this study, we investigated if paclitaxel can attenuate tubulointerstitial fibrosis in a rat model of unilateral ureteral obstruction (UUO). Rats in groups of six were subjected to UUO and received low-dose intraperitoneal injection of paclitaxel (0.3 mg/kg) twice a week. They were killed at day 7 and 14 after UUO or Sham operation. TGF-beta signaling cascade and status of various ECM proteins were evaluated by RT-PCR, western blotting and immunohistochemical or immunofluorescence staining. The paclitaxel treatment markedly suppressed Smad2 and Smad3 phosphorylation. This was associated with attenuated expression of integrin-linked kinase, collagens I and III, fibronectin (FN) and alpha-smooth muscle actin, and a substantial decrease in renal fibrosis in animals that underwent UUO and received paclitaxel. These data indicate that the low-dose paclitaxel ameliorates renal tubulointerstitial fibrosis by modulating TGF-beta signaling, and thus, the paclitaxel may have some therapeutic value in humans.