We have examined whether oral feeding of antigen can regulate the expression of autoimmune interstitial nephritis induced by antigen-in-adjuvant (RTA/CFA) immunization of Brown Norway rats. Male rats were divided into six experimental groups: Group I, RTA/CFA immunization alone; Groups II, III, and IV were pretreated with 1 mg (Group II), 5 mg (Group III), and 25 mg (Group IV) of oral tubular antigen every other day for ten days, followed by RTA/CFA immunization; Group V was pretreated with a control antigen, followed by RTA/CFA immunization; and Group VI was immunized with CFA alone. Renal histology, inulin clearance, DTH responses to RTA, and IgG antibody responses to RTA were monitored as endpoints of the study. Our results demonstrated that Group III and IV animals had significantly less severe renal injury, as assessed by inulin clearance and extent of renal cortical involvement by mononuclear cells. Group II and IV animals had suppressed DTH responses, and only Group IV animals had significantly depressed antigen-specific IgG serum titers. Group III animals had neither suppressed DTH responses or IgG titers. We conclude that oral administration of tubular antigen can modulate the intensity of interstitial nephritis produced by immunization, but that the regulatory mechanism is not dependent (at all doses of fed antigen) on suppressed DTH reactivity to RTA or suppressed antigen-specific IgG.