The role of the reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the induction of tissue injury has been well documented. Regarding glomerular injury, the focus of past studies has been on superoxide, hydrogen peroxide, hydroxyl radical and C10-. However, whether singlet oxygen, an exceptionally reactive oxygen metabolite, may cause glomerular lesions has not been investigated. In the present study we documented the effects of locally generated singlet oxygen in the kidney. To generate singlet oxygen, kidneys were perfused with the pigment pheophorbide a, which was followed by exposure to light. One hour after irradiation, severe morphological damage of the glomerular cell had developed. Extensive deposits of fibrin and accumulation of platelets were seen in the glomerular capillary lumina. By contrast, kidneys not exposed to light showed no, or only minimal, abnormalities. Glomerular injury was not inhibited by pretreatment with superoxide dismutase. These results suggest that singlet oxygen produced by pheophorbide a by photodynamic reaction leads to tissue injury in vivo.