Acute tubulointerstitial nephritis (ATIN) is a common cause of acute kidney injury (AKI) for which early treatment improves prognosis. The recent increase in prevalence has not been reflected in the literature. The aim of our study was to analyse all native kidney biopsies performed from 1994 to 2009 and included in the Spanish Registry of Glomerulonephritis with a histological diagnosis of ATIN. We assessed the prevalence of ATIN, associated clinical syndromes and urinary sediment abnormalities. We divided the population into two groups according to age: adults (15-65 years) and elderly patients (>65 years). We collected a total of 17 680 native kidney biopsies from 120 hospitals in Spain. The overall prevalence of ATIN was 2.7%. When the analysis was restricted to patients with AKI, the prevalence increased to 12.9%. During the 16 years of follow-up, there was a significant increase in prevalence (from 3.6% in the first 4 years to 10.5% in the last 4 years), which was more marked among elderly patients (from 1.6 to 12.3%). The most common clinical manifestations were AKI, microscopic haematuria, non-nephrotic proteinuria, leucocyturia and arterial hypertension, which were more frequent in the elderly. The prevalence of ATIN has increased in recent years, especially in patients aged >65 years. This could be due to an increase in drug-associated ATIN, which would justify early renal biopsy to identify ATIN and reduce the probability of progression to chronic kidney disease. Although, our data are not able to corroborate this fact.