Cadmium (Cd), an important pollutant, causes severe damage at the renal tubular level. Numerous previous studies have focused upon Cd tubular nephrotoxicity. The present study of Cd-induced glomerular damage examined the vasoactive effect of Cd in freshly isolated glomeruli and mesangial cells. Glomeruli were isolated by passing rat renal cortex pulp through calibrated sieves followed by culture for outgrowth of cells. Quantitative evaluation of glomerular and cellular contractions was performed by morphometric measurement of the area with an automatized image analyzer following different incubation times with Hanks’ balanced salt solution or Cd<sup>2+</sup>. Each glomerulus or mesangial cell served as its own control. Cd lethality was measured with microassay methods (neutral red, MTT uptake, and lactate dehydrogenase release), allowing the determination of an IC<sub>50</sub>. This ranged from 35 to 60 μ M. CdCl<sub>2</sub> induced a time-dependent contractile effect on isolated glomeruli; planar surface area decreases were 6.9% (1 μ M), 7.5% (0.1 μ M), and 7% (0.01 μ M). The decrease started as soon as Cd was in contact with glomeruli and ended 40 min later: T5 (2%), T10 (3.5%), T20 (4.2%), T30 (6.3%), T40 (7%). Cell size reduction was 19% (1 μ M), 14% (0.1 μ M), and 18% (0.01 μ M) and was also time-dependent. To confirm that contractile events occurred during the cell shape changes, examination of the mesangial α-actin network was performed concurrently. These results indicate that Cd contracts glomerular structures. This may, in part, explain the reduction in glomerular filtration seen in Cd nephrotoxicity.