Dichromate-induced acute tubular necrosis (ATN) was created in 16 experimental animals and compared with four controls. An increase in cortical echogenicity, greatest on days 4 and 7 after injection, was noted using both histogram analysis and blinded observer readings. These findings closely correlated with proportional outer cortical blood flow. Good interobserver correlation was noted. Based on this experiment, clinical observations, and the literature, we propose that three different entities with different sonographic appearances are included under the term ATN. Drug-induced nephrotoxicity is associated with increased cortical echogenicity; ischemic ATN leads to no change in cortical echogenicity with normal medullary echogenicity; and precipitation of Tamm-Horsfall protein in the pyramids leads to echogenic pyramids with normal cortical echogenicity.