Considerable evidence indicates that genetic determinants play a major role in the pathogenesis of a variety of human and experimentally-induced renal diseases. There are, however, no firm data to indicate which genes or types of genes can induce or promote renal disease. The recently acquired ability to make specific alterations in the genetic background of an animal affords a unique opportunity to assess the effect(s) of a given gene on the structure and function of an organ of interest. Such modifications have been carried out in the creation of transgenic mice. We examined mice transgenic for the transforming gene encoding large T-antigen which is present in the early region of simian virus 40 (SV40). Renal lesions were present in most animals. While there was some heterogeneity in the type and severity of the renal lesions observed, a majority of the older mice displayed glomerulosclerosis and/or proliferative tubular lesions which in some were associated with multiple, large tubular cysts. The appearance of these lesions in mice transgenic for a transforming gene suggests that renal expression of a gene which controls cell proliferation may be associated with the development of glomerulosclerosis and renal cysts. These findings indicate a possible role for other transforming genes, or oncogenes, in the pathogenesis of glomerulosclerosis and cystic renal disease in humans and other animal models.