Glomerular lesions in hereditary nephrotic mice (ICGN strain) were investigated by electron microscopy. The glomeruli of unaffected animals, which appeared normal by light microscopy, had developed an ultrastructural change in the glomerular capillary basement membrane (GCBM). There was a partial thickening of the GCBM with bilaminar splitting of the lamina densa and an electron-dense fibrillar material exhibiting cross-striations. In affected animals, light microscopy revealed a marked thickening of GCBM and an increase of mesangial matrix without cellular proliferation. By electron microscopy, multilaminar splitting of the lamina densa in the thickened GCBMs and fusion of the epithelial foot processes were observed. In some severely affected animals, immune complex deposition was found in GCBM, but little if any was observed in other animals. In the end, the glomeruli were globally sclerosed. Our findings suggest that initial structural abnormalities in GCBM may play an important role in the onset and development of the disease, though subsequent events such as immune complex deposition would modify the disease.