The interrelationships between tubulointerstitial immune deposits (TID), interstitial inflammation, glomerular changes, renal function, and prognosis were assessed in the renal biopsies from 93 patients with lupus nephritis. The prevalence of TID was 33% by immunofluorescence and 23% by electron microscopy. Although predominantly detected along and within tubular basement membranes, extraglomerular immune deposits were also present in the wall of renal interstitial capillaries and small arteries as well as in Bowman's capsule. The prevalence of TID correlated with the activity of glomerular lesions and, to a lesser extent, with the severity of proliferative lupus nephritis (WHO classes II-IV). TID were much less common in the membranous form (WHO class V). The severity of interstitial inflammation correlated with the degree of renal insufficiency and was an accurate prognostic indicator of progressive deterioration of renal function. However, there was no correlation between prevalence of TID and prevalence and severity of interstitial inflammation, suggesting that the latter is not necessarily secondary to the presence of immune complexes and that other pathogenetic mechanisms may be involved.