Interferon-inducible protein (IP)-10 is a small glycoprotein member of a family of chemotactic cytokines structurally related to interleukin-8. We have recently described the induction of IP-10 mRNA in mouse mesangial cells stimulated with lipopolysacharide, interferon-gamma, and tumor necrosis factor-alpha. To further evaluate a possible role for this chemokine in renal injury, we have studied IP-10 in an experimental model of nephrosis induced in rats by adriamycin. High levels of glomerular IP-10 mRNA expression and glomerular and tubulointerstitial IP-10 protein were seen on day 21, coinciding with maximal proteinuria, glomerular tumor necrosis factor mRNA expression, and interstitial cellular infiltrates. Maintenance on a low protein diet not only delayed the appearance of proteinuria and interstitial cellular infiltrate but also decreased glomerular IP-10 mRNA expression. Isolated normal glomeruli and cultured glomerular epithelial and mesangial cells from normal rats expressed IP-10 mRNA upon stimulation with 100 U/ml interferon or 1 microgram/ml lipopolysaccharide for 3 hours. IP-10 mRNA expression was also inducible by lipopolysaccharide and cytokines in NRK 49F renal interstitial fibroblasts and, to a lesser extent, in NRK 52E tubular epithelial cells. Furthermore, IP-10 protein was inducible in murine mesangial cells. We conclude that IP-10 is highly inducible in vitro and in vivo in resident glomerular and tubulointerstitial cells. IP-10 may participate in the modulation of renal damage in experimental nephrosis.