Kaspareit-Rittinghausen described a rodent model of inherited polycystic kidney disease (PKD), the Han:SPRD rat [1, 2], in which heterozygotes develop renal cysts and renal failure (in males) over several months, whereas homozygous animals develop rapidly progressive renal enlargement that leads to death in a few weeks. In this study, we examined selected elements of the pathogenesis of this disease in heterozygotes and homozygotes from birth to advanced disease. Heterozygous male rats developed slowly progressive renal cystic disease with interstitial fibrosis and azotemia seen by six months of age. Female heterozygotes developed slowly progressive renal cystic disease, but did not develop interstitial fibrosis or azotemia. Epithelial cells lining cyst cavities showed various degrees of morphologic immaturity. Cyst walls also developed basement membrane thickening, especially in areas of cellular immaturity, suggesting an interrelationship between this basement membrane thickening and cellular dedifferentiation. Thickened basement membranes were associated with increased immunoreactivity for type IV collagen, laminin, and fibronectin. Homozygous rats developed massive renal enlargement, marked azotemia, and died near three weeks of age. Renal c-myc proto-oncogene expression was elevated in homozygous cystic infants and in adult heterozygotes. In situ hybridization showed high levels of c-myc mRNA in cyst epithelia, suggesting abnormal regulation of cellular proliferation in the cells lining cysts, as seen in other models of PKD. The Han:SPRD rat is the only well-documented animal model of inherited PKD with an autosomal-dominant inheritance pattern and appears to have several features which resemble human ADPKD.