The major reabsorptive mechanism for D-glucose in the kidney is known to involve a low affinity high capacity Na+/glucose cotransporter, which is located in the early proximal convoluted tubule segment S1, and which has a Na+ to glucose coupling ratio of 1:1. Here we provide the first molecular evidence for this renal D-glucose reabsorptive mechanism. We report the characterization of a previously cloned human kidney cDNA that codes for a protein with 59% identity to the high affinity Na+/glucose cotransporter (SGLT1). Using expression studies with Xenopus laevis oocytes we demonstrate that this protein (termed SGLT2) mediates saturable Na(+)-dependent and phlorizin-sensitive transport of D-glucose and alpha-methyl-D-glucopyranoside (alpha MeGlc) with Km values of 1.6 mM for alpha MeGlc and approximately 250 to 300 mM for Na+, consistent with low affinity Na+/glucose cotransport. In contrast to SGLT1, SGLT2 does not transport D-galactose. By comparing the initial rate of [14C]-alpha MeGlc uptake with the Na(+)-influx calculated from alpha MeGlc-evoked inward currents, we show that the Na+ to glucose coupling ratio of SGLT2 is 1:1. Using combined in situ hybridization and immunocytochemistry with tubule segment specific marker antibodies, we demonstrate an extremely high level of SGLT2 message in proximal tubule S1 segments. This level of expression was also evident on Northern blots and likely confers the high capacity of this glucose transport system. We conclude that SGLT2 has properties characteristic of the renal low affinity high capacity Na+/glucose cotransporter as previously reported for perfused tubule preparations and brush border membrane vesicles. Knowledge of the structural and functional properties of this major renal Na+/glucose reabsorptive mechanism will advance our understanding of the pathophysiology of renal diseases such as familial renal glycosuria and diabetic renal disorders.