CBA/CaH- kdkd mice develop hereditary tubulointerstitial disease with mononuclear cell infiltration and cyst formation, possibly representing a model of human nephronophthisis. The purpose of the present investigation was to examine the components of the fibrotic changes which typically develop in the kidneys of these mice. By conventional histology, kdkd mice displayed progressive interstitial fibroblast and matrix accumulation. Immunohistological analysis of kdkd kidneys showed marked deposition of fibronectin in the tubulointerstitial space and revealed prominent irregularities for laminin and collagen type IV in the tubular basement membrane (TBM), including thickening, widening and folding. Electron microscopy confirmed the TBM abnormalities and showed marked undulation and thickening in areas of proximal tubular (PT) degeneration. Immunofluorescence staining analysis for the fibronectin receptors VLA-4 and VLA-5 showed no expression on injured proximal tubules, whereas the expression of the laminin receptor VLA-6 was increased and irregular on altered PT. Analysis of RNA derived from kdkd kidneys revealed marked upregulation of steady-state mRNA levels for the fibrogenic growth factor TGF-β. We conclude that TBM alterations, matrix accumulation and changes in integrin expression together with enhanced TGF-β production are typical features of kdkd tubulointerstitial disease and suggest that characteristic TBM or matrix alterations could contribute to the pathogenesis of the disease in these mice.