The hypothesis that P-glycoprotein (P-gp) mediates the renal secretion of organic cations was tested by functional expression of mRNAs in the Xenopus laevis oocyte system. Efflux of 2'-deoxytubercidin (dTub), a substrate for the renal organic cation transporter (OCT) but not for P-gp, was enhanced by injection of renal mRNA but not by injection of mRNA from P-gp-overexpressing cells (MDCK cells transduced with the cDNA for human MDR1). The functional capacity of the MDCK-MDR mRNA was established by its ability to reduce the steady-state uptake of a classical P-gp substrate, vinblastine. Thus, these data indicate OCT and P-gp to be distinct entities. The Xenopus oocyte system provides a functional approach to further characterize the OCT.