FITC-labelled IgG obtained from patients convalescing from acute poststreptococcal glomerulonephritis (APSGN) stains glomeruli of patients with early APSGN. We previously reported a streptococcal antigen (preabsorbing antigen (PA-Ag)) that preabsorbed the stain out of sera from the convalescent patients and thus prevented glomerular staining. To confirm the nephritogenicity of PA-Ag, we administered up to 40 mg of this antigen to rabbits for 8 days and observed them for up to 9 weeks. Immunohistological analysis showed diffuse and global glomerular staining for C3 without notable staining for gamma-globulin. Light microscopic examinations revealed slight to moderate proliferative glomerulonephritis with exudative change. Control rabbits, which received similar doses of bovine serum albumin, did not show significant staining for C3. A transient and significant decrease in CH50 was observed from weeks 3 to 7 (9.7 +/- 0.3 U/ml at week 3; normal range 12.9 +/- 0.6 U/ml). This experimental model showed a resemblance to immunological and immunohistological features of APSGN in humans. Although the precise mechanisms are yet to be determined, complement activation by PA-Ag seems to hold a key position in this model and in the human disease.