Glomerular plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1) steady-state mRNA and bioactivity were increased after the induction of an augmented form of antiglomerular basement membrane (GBM) antibody glomerulonephritis. PAI-1 mRNA expression was noted at 6 h, peaking at 1 day, and although falling thereafter, remained higher than that of the control group through Day 17. PAI-1 mRNA expression correlated with glomerular PAI-1 bioactivity as determined by a functional tissue type plasminogen activator (t-PA) binding assay. Glomerular PAI-1 bioactivity, not detected in controls, increased to 1.4 +/- 0.3 ng/mg of glomerular lysate at 6 h and then decreased to 0.7 +/- 0.1 ng/mg of glomerular lysate by Day 6. The mRNA of the plasminogen activators (urokinase plasminogen activator), t-PA) either remained unchanged or declined through Day 1, with a slight increase in t-PA mRNA at Day 6. Interleukin-1 beta mRNA expression was maximal at 6 h, declining by Day 3. Transforming growth factor beta 1 (TGF-beta 1) mRNA began to increase at Day 1, was maximal at Day 6, and fell only slightly by Day 17. Epidermal growth factor mRNA decreased. The increase in PAI-1 mRNA and bioactivity, possibly induced early by the interleukin-1 beta response and perhaps later by the TGF-beta 1 response, was associated with striking glomerular capillary lumen fibrin accumulations on Day 1, which decreased and appeared to recanalize as the PAI-1 mRNA and bioactivity fell. The glomerular lesion continued to have some fibrin deposits even on Day 17 and, in addition, had changes of thickened GBM, suggestive of the early stages of diffuse glomerulosclerosis. The latter had a temporal relationship with the persisting increase in TGF-beta 1 and PAI-1 mRNA levels. These observations suggest the possibility that inhibition of enzymes capable of remodeling excessive extracellular matrix production may have contributed to the thickened GBM.