Lipopolysaccharide, a potent pro-inflammatory constituent of bacterial cell walls, is capable of promoting glomerular inflammation, by both activating circulating inflammatory cells and local interactions with renal parenchymal cells. We sought to determine whether lipopolysaccharide was capable of promoting glomerular inflammation by directly stimulating mesangial cell production of monocyte chemoattractant protein 1, a recently described cytokine capable of eliciting recruitment of mononuclear phagocytes into inflammatory foci. Northern hybridization analysis revealed dose and time-dependent induction of mRNA coding for monocyte chemoattractant protein 1 in quiescent rat mesangial cells treated with lipopolysaccharide. Lipopolysaccharide-elicited induction of monocyte chemoattractant protein mRNA was detectable after 1 hour and persisted for at least 30 hours. Media isolated from rat mesangial cell cultures stimulated by lipopolysaccharide possessed monocyte chemotactic activity that was detectable at 8 hours and peaked at 24 hours; an antimonocyte chemoattractant protein antibody blocked 87% of this chemotactic activity. We suggest that lipopolysaccharide, released from bacterial cell walls, promotes glomerular inflammation by stimulating mesangial cell production of monocyte chemoattractant protein 1.