Background/Aim: In idiopathic nephrotic syndrome (INS), ciclosporin A (CsA) was shown to decrease proteinuria, an effect explained by its immunologic and hemodynamic actions. In order to determine whether CsA could have a direct action on glomerular cells, we studied the effect of CsA on glomerular cells in vitro, particularly on glycosaminoglcycans (GAG) and heparan sulfates (HS) which are decreased in INS patients. Methods: Human glomerular epithelial cells and rat mesangial cells were cultured at various concentrations of CsA. HS were quantified using a cationic membrane after metabolic labeling. Results: Mesangial cell GAG and HS and epithelial cell HS increased significantly when cells were cultured with CsA. For both cell types this increase was prevailing on the secreted fraction of HS in comparison with the cellular fraction. CsA induced also an increase in cellular cAMP levels, but the effect of CsA was not transduced via a cAMP pathway. Conclusions: CsA is able to increase glomerular GAG and HS in vitro. As this effect of CsA was the opposite effect on glomerular cells to the effect of plasma from INS patients, we conclude that this direct action of CsA on glomerular cells could explain in part the effect of this drug in decreasing proteinuria in INS.