Urinary calcium oxalate (CaOx) crystals and crystal agglomerates are normally harmlessly excreted, but in nephrolithiasis they are retained by tubular epithelial cells and shifted into the renal interstitium. This crystalline material induces an inflammatory response consisting of an increase in the number of interstitial cells and an expansion of the extracellular matrix. The newly arrived cells either derive from the blood or the connective tissue or they are formed by local proliferation. Identification of the cells that surround the interstitial crystals is a first step in investigating the question of whether the interstitial cells could remove the crystalline material. Therefore, we performed an immunohistochemical study on the kidneys of rats made hyperoxaluric by ethylene glycol (EG) and ammonium chloride (AC). Attention was paid to expression of the leukocyte common antigen (LCA), which identifies all types of leukocytes, the ED1 antigen, which is specific for monocytes and macrophages, and the major histocompatibility class II antigen (MHC II), which is present on dendritic cells, B lymphocytes, and activated macrophages. The results obtained were compared with those seen in two human kidney specimens with acute and chronic oxalosis. In both rat and humans, macrophages and multinucleated giant cells are the major cells that encapsulate the interstitial crystals. This similarity in response underlines the relevance of the rat nephrolithiasis model. The rat experiments showed, furthermore, that the number of interstitial crystals and the amount of biochemically measured kidney-associated oxalate both decrease with time, if the nephrolithiatic agents EG and AC are omitted from the drinking water. Further studies must clarify whether macrophages and multinucleated giant cells are able to remove the interstitial crystals and how these cells are recruited at the inflammatory site.