To further define the role of transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) receptors in renal vascular development, detailed immunohistochemical studies of TGF-beta receptor expression were performed from gestational day 15 through adulthood. On gestational day 15, TGF-beta type II receptor immunoreactivity was restricted to perirenal stromal and vascular cells. On gestational day 17 TGF-beta type II receptor immunoreactive stromal cells were observed within the kidney, with the same distribution as stromal alpha-smooth muscle actin and renin immunoreactive cells, and intense stromal TGF-beta type II receptor immunoreactivity continued through postnatal day 5. As vascular development progressed, TGF-beta type II receptor, alpha-smooth muscle actin and renin immunoreactivity became progressively restricted to small renal arteries and arterioles. Expression of TGF-beta type II receptors and renin was very intense in afferent glomerular arterioles during postnatal days 5 to 15, and then became progressively restricted only to juxtaglomerular cells in the mature kidney. TGF-beta type I receptor (ALK-5, ALK-1 and ALK-2) immunoreactivity was not detected in stromal or vascular elements during development or in the mature kidney. Intense TGF-beta type II receptor expression in renal stromal vascular smooth muscle cell precursors and developing blood vessels suggests a role for the TGF-beta type II receptors in the formation of the renal vascular smooth muscle compartment. The continued intense expression in juxtaglomerular cells argues for a role in renin synthesis and/or release. The absence of ALK-5, ALK-1, and ALK-2 in developing vascular smooth muscle and mature juxtaglomerular cells indicates that the canonical view of TGF-beta signaling may not hold in these locations.