The mechanism of renal ablation by intra-arterial ethanol was studied in 16 mongrel dogs. Ethanol injection rates were varied, and light and electron microscopic studies were performed to detect early parenchymal changes in the kidneys. Pure ischemic injury was also studied as a control. Findings showed extensive parenchymal injury plays a significant role in renal ablation with permanent thrombosis as a delayed event. Acute arterial occlusion occurred with slow ethanol injection rates due to embolization by damaged blood components.