Angiotensinogen-deficient mice provide a model to examine the roles of angiotensin II as a renal growth factor in vivo. We monitored nephrogenesis and renovascular development in angiotensinogen-deficient mice from Embryonic Day 13 (E13) to 4 weeks after birth. Northern analysis of homozygote (Atg-/-) mice confirmed the absence of angiotensinogen mRNA in the liver and the kidneys. Embryonic kidneys in Atg-/- mice from E13 to E18 exhibited active nephrogenesis, as also observed in Atg+/- mice and Atg+/+ mice. Furthermore, metanephroi harvested at E12 from Atg-/- embryos showed branching morphogenesis of ureteric bud and tubulogenesis similar to metanephrol from Atg-/- embryos grown with exogenous angiotensin II in serum-free culture. In newborn Atg-/- mice, we observed uniform dilation of the pelvis accompanied by a coarse medulla, which was not noted in Atg+/- or Atg+/+ mice. Hydronephrosis in Atg-/- mice continued, and renal papillae underwent atrophy for the 4 weeks after birth. Another characteristic aspect of the morphology of Atg-/- mice was the thickening of vascular walls as little as 2 weeks after birth. Immunohistochemistry revealed recruitment of renin in hyperplastic vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMC) in Atg-/- mice after 2 weeks. Electron microscopy confirmed that the majority of hyperplastic VSMC contained various sized renin granules with abundant endoplasmic reticulum. In situ hybridization demonstrated that expression of renin mRNA became prominent in parallel with hyperplasia of VSMC, as well as recruitment of renin protein. Furthermore, at 4 weeks, Atg-/- mice expressed alpha-smooth muscle actin in the mesangium, whereas none was ever found in that of Atg+/- mice and Atg+/+ mice. In conclusion, the renin-angiotensin system seems not be essential for nephrogenesis in vivo. Furthermore, hyperplasia of VSMC and expression of the smooth-muscle phenotype in the mesangium are inducible even in the absence of angiotensin II, with hypotension, in vivo.