We found that mice transgenic for native bovine growth hormone (bGH) gene had increased body size and rapidly progressive glomerulosclerosis, whereas mice transgenic for a mutated bGH gene (bGH-m11) had near normal body size and slowly progressive glomerulosclerosis. The aim of this study was to determine whether rapidly and slowly progressive glomerulosclerosis had distinct glomerular extracellular matrix (ECM) and growth factor mRNA levels. ECM and growth factors were quantitated by competitive reverse transcriptase-PCR in microdissected glomeruli from bGH, bGH-m11, and nontransgenic littermate control mice. In rapid progressors (bGH mice) at 2 to 3 months, the levels of mRNA-coding for some glomerular ECM and growth factors were increased (alpha 1(IV) collagen, 7.3-fold; laminin B1, 3.9-fold; tenascin, 8-fold; and tumor growth factor (TGF)-beta 1, 3.4-fold). These levels underwent a further 2.3-fold increase at 6 to 9 months. Platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF)-B mRNA was high at 2 to 3 months (7.4-fold) and 6 to 9 months (9.5-fold) and was associated with an increased [3H]-thymidine-labeling index and glomerular cell number. In slow progressors (bGH-m11 mice), the mRNA levels at 2 to 3 months were approximately one half that of rapid progressors (alpha 1(IV) collagen, 3.4-fold; laminin B1 1.9-fold; tenascin, 3-fold; TGF-beta 1, 2.2-fold). PDGF-B levels were normal. At 6 to 9 months, alpha 1(IV) collagen, TGF-beta 1, and PDGF-B mRNA levels doubled, whereas tenascin and laminin B1 levels remained stable. At 12 to 18 months, the alpha 1(IV) collagen, TGF-beta 1, and tenascin levels increased by nearly another 50%. The labeling index and PDGF levels were not increased at any time. The levels of expression of several glomerular ECM mRNA and growth factors of rapid progressors at 2 to 3 months of age was nearly double that of slow progressors, nearly doubling again by 6 to 9 months. In slow progressors, alpha 1(IV) collagen and TGF-beta 1 mRNA levels continued to increase at a slow rate, but tenascin and laminin mRNA levels were only further increased at 12 to 18 months. Thus, the initial levels of these mRNA and their rate of change correlated with the severity of glomerulosclerosis.