In 50 calcium oxalate stone-forming patients, the total excretion of glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) and of four subgroups [chondroitin-4-sulfate (CS-A), chondroitin-6-sulfate (CS-C), dermatan sulfate (DS) and hyaluronic acid (HY)] were investigated before extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL) and during the subsequent 5 days. The standard value was determined by reference to a group of healthy test subjects. The excretion of GAGs was significantly higher in healthy test persons than in stone-forming patients. Twenty-four hours after ESWL administration, GAG excretion was enhanced significantly but returned to normal values over the course of 3 days. ESWL had no influence on the proportional composition of GAG subgroups CS-A, CS-C, DS and HY. The increase in GAG excretion after ESWL indicates a transient injury of renal tissue or of the mucus layer lining the urothelium. This lesion, however, can be regarded as temporary with later restitutio ad integrum.