To elucidate the role of macrophages in diabetic glomerulosclerosis (DGS), an immunohistologic study was performed using monoclonal antibodies to common leukocyte antigen (DAKO-LC), T cells (T3), B cells (CD22), and macrophages (MAC 387, Leu-M5, and EBM-11). Kidney biopsy specimens were obtained from 28 patients with non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. Cells were identified by a three-layer immunoperoxidase technique applied to cold ethanol-fixed, paraffin-embedded sections and quantitated as the number of cells per glomerular cross-sections and number of cells per square millimeter of glomerulus. The severity of the diffuse lesions in each glomerulus was graded semiquantitatively. The average grades for all the glomeruli were calculated and registered as an index of DGS for a biopsy specimen. There was no relationship between the index of DGS and the number of T or B cells. However, the number of macrophages and common leukocyte-positive cells increased significantly in the moderate stage of glomerulosclerosis compared with the mild or advanced stage. The results suggest that macrophages may transiently infiltrate during the moderate stage of diffuse DGS, contributing to irreversible structural damage.