Heparin-binding epidermal growth factor-like growth factor (HB-EGF), a member of the epidermal growth factor (EGF) family, is expressed during inflammatory and pathological conditions. We have cloned the rat HB-EGF and followed the expression of HB-EGF in rat kidneys treated with anti- glomerular basement membrane (anti-GBM) antibody (Ab) to induce glomerulonephritis (GN). We observed glomerular HB-EGF mRNA and protein within 30 minutes of Ab administration and showed by in situ hybridization that glomerular HB-EGF mRNA expression was predominantly in mesangial and epithelial cells. Expression of HB-EGF correlated with the onset of decreased renal function in this model. To test the direct effect of HB-EGF on renal function, we infused the renal cortex with active rHB-EGF, prepared from transfected Drosophila melanogaster cells. This treatment induced a significant decrease in single nephron GFR (SNGFR), single nephron plasma flow, and glomerular ultrafiltration coefficient and an increase in the glomerular capillary hydrostatic pressure gradient. In addition, anti-HB-EGF Ab administered just before anti-GBM Ab blocked the fall in SNGFR and GFR at 90 minutes without any change in the glomerular histologic response. These studies suggest that HB-EGF expressed early in the anti-GBM Ab GN model contributes to the observed acute glomerular hemodynamic alterations.