It is generally accepted that the progressive loss of kidney function results from a pathogenic process that is independent of the original etiology, functioning as a final common pathway. Part of this response is characterized by triggering of interstitial infiltration and induction of tubular damage. As a consequence, tubular epithelial cells (TEC) can become activated and begin to express several inflammatory mediators. In the present review, we will summarize the potential role of TEC in progressive renal disease. Much emphasis will be put on studies using in vitro cultured TEC. These studies have provided more insight into the different signals involved in the regulation of the production of inflammatory mediators like complement, cytokines and chemokines, as well as progression factors like growth factors and matrix component by TEC.