Interstitial infiltration by mononuclear cells is a hallmark of most inflammatory kidney diseases, and the degree of infiltration is associated with disease progression. It has been demonstrated that proximal tubular epithelial cells (PTEC) are an important source of different cytokines/chemokines and thereby play a central role in the regulation of the local inflammatory response. CD40 is a cell surface receptor involved in immune regulation for which the ligand is expressed on activated T cells. By different staining methods, CD40 was found expressed in cryosections on the basolateral side of tubuli, as well as on the surface of an SV40-transformed PTEC line (PTEC-TRL) and on primary PTEC cultures. Cross linking CD40 receptor on these cultured cells, using a CD40L-transfected mouse fibroblast, resulted in strong up-regulation of the production of the chemokines IL-8, MCP-1 and RANTES. For IL-8 and MCP-1 production, the stimulation index after CD40 activation ranged from two- to sevenfold. Much stronger effects were observed for RANTES production, where levels remained undetectable (< 0.1 ng/ml) in non-stimulated cultures, whereas CD40 activation resulted in a strong production reaching 5 ng/ml in a 72-hour culture period. These data suggest that CD40L-CD40 interactions between infiltrating activated T cells and PTEC might be an important factor in the regulation of interstitial infiltration within the kidney.