Renal scarring is considered to develop in the later stages of chronic pyelonephritis. In our experimental model of pyelonephritis, bacteria with mannose-sensitive (MS) pili on their surface promoted renal scarring following inoculation into the renal parenchyma. The administration of cyclophosphamide to induce leukopenia and of superoxide dismutase to inactivate superoxide released from polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMN) at the infection site suppressed any renal scarring following the infection. Conversely, the administration of phorbol myristate acetate at an early stage of infection significantly enhanced the renal scarring. These findings suggest that the PMNs which infiltrate the infection site and the superoxide they release play an important role in any renal scarring following infection with MS-piliated bacteria.