There is an emerging concept in clinical nephrology that acute kidney injury (AKI) can initiate chronic kidney disease (CKD). However, potential mechanisms by which this may occur remain elusive. Hence, this study tested the hypotheses that 1) AKI triggers progressive activation of selected proinflammatory genes, 2) there is a relative failure of compensatory anti-inflammatory gene expression, 3) proinflammatory lipid accumulation occurs, 4) these changes correspond with "gene-activating" histone acetylation, and 5) in concert, progressive renal disease results. CD-1 mice were subjected to 30 min of unilateral renal ischemia. Assessments were made 1 day, 1 wk, or 3 wk later. Results were contrasted to those observed in uninjured contralateral kidneys or in kidneys from normal mice. Progressive renal injury occurred throughout the 3-wk postischemic period, as denoted by stepwise increases in neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin gene induction and ongoing histologic damage. By 3 wk postischemia, progressive renal disease was observed (massive tubular dropout; 2/3rds reduction in renal weight). These changes corresponded with progressive increases in proinflammatory cytokine/chemokine gene expression (MCP-1, TNF-α, TGF-β1), a relative failure of anti-inflammatory enzyme/cytokine (heme oxygenase-1; IL-10) upregulation, and progressive renal lipid (cholesterol/triglyceride) loading. Stepwise increases in collagen III mRNA and collagen deposition (Sirius red staining) indicated a progressive profibrotic response. Postischemic dexamethasone treatment significantly preserved renal mass, indicating functional significance of the observed proinflammatory state. Progressive gene-activating H3 acetylation was observed by ELISA, rising from 5% at baseline to 75% at 3 wk. This was confirmed by chromatin immunoprecipitation assay of target genes. In sum, these results provide experimental support for the clinical concept that AKI can trigger CKD, this is partially mediated by progressive postischemic inflammation, ongoing lipid accumulation results (potentially evoking "lipotoxicity"), and increasing histone acetylation at proinflammatory/profibrotic genes may contribute to this self-sustaining injury-promoting state.