To define the characteristics and target antigens (Ags) of nephrotoxic antibodies (Abs) and to analyze the factors that govern the evolution of Ab-mediated glomerular injury, we have prepared monoclonal Abs against rat glomerular Ags. BALB/c mice were immunized with Lewis rat cortex or glomeruli, and their spleens were removed and fused with hypoxanthine-aminopterin-thymidine supplement-sensitive myelomas. Hybrids were selected for production of Abs against Lewis rat kidney by indirect immunofluorescence. To date, more than 50 positive hybrids have been selected and their tissue reactivity defined by indirect immunofluorescence and immunoelectron microscopy. Of these, 14 are presented here in detail. One of these monoclonal Abs, K9/4, recognizes a unique Ag present exclusively on the cell surface of rat glomerular visceral epithelial cells. Four Abs (K12/2, K17/4, K12/5, and K12/8) recognize sites within the glomerular basement membrane; K12/2 and K17/4 also bind to vascular basement membranes of the rat, whereas K12/5 and K12/8 bind to glomerular basement membrane, tubular basement membranes, and vascular and epithelial basement membranes in all tissues of the rat. Two hybridomas (K6/1 and K6/3) recognize determinant(s) present on cell surfaces of endothelial and epithelial cells as well as within the glomerular basement membrane. All of these previously mentioned Abs are species restricted (i.e., they bind only to rat tissue) and, with the exception of K9/4, bind upon in vivo administration. Several others, however, recognize ubiquitous Ags that are present on intracellular structures in every species tested. The tissue distribution of these Ags suggests that they are present in contractile or cytoskeletal elements and, as expected from their intracellular location, monoclonal Abs directed against these components do not bind upon in vivo administration. Future studies will be directed at defining the antigenic composition of the glomerular capillary wall and the relevance of such Ags in immune-mediated glomerular injury.