Congenital nephrosis of the Finnish type (CNF) is a hereditary renal disease of unknown aetiology manifested by massive proteinuria of the newborn and unresponsive to any treatment. In this study kidney samples and cultured glomerular mesangial cells from five patients with CNF were studied by indirect immunofluorescence microscopy for the presence and location of major basement membrane matrix (GBM) components. Histological changes of glomeruli ranging from mild thickening of basement membranes to total obliteration and sclerosis were seen. Notably, thickening of the subepithelial layer of Bowman's capsules was regularly seen along with hypercellularity at the juxtaglomerular areas. The matrix components studied (laminin, plasma- and cellular fibronectin, type IV collagen, including the NC-1, alpha-1 and alpha-3 chains, heparan sulphate proteoglycan (HSPG) core protein, thrombospondin) were characteristically seen within the glomeruli. Local thickenings alternating with total loss of epitopes along the GBM were seen, especially with anti-type IV collagen and anti-HSPG antibodies. Sera from CNF patients after transplantation failed to show antibodies against GBM structures in immunofluorescence microscopy, suggesting that no missing epitopes of GBM are introduced with the transplant kidney. Cultured mesangial cells of CNF glomeruli also showed continued in vitro production of the matrix components and their incorporation into the matrix underneath the cell layer.