As a means of studying mechanisms of response to injury in glomerulonephritis, glomeruli from normal sheep and rabbits and from sheep and rabbits with experimental crescentic glomerulonephritis have been isolated and grown in tissue culture. The cellular outgrowths from the normal and diseased glomeruli have been compared. The outgrowth of glomeruli from normal animals contained only two cell populations whose microscopic and ultrastructural appearances were of epithelial and mesangial cells. The same cells were also observed in the outgrowths of glomeruli from animals with crescenti nephritis but in addition a third population of cells was present in large numbers. These cells were identified as macrophages by their mobility, ultrastructure, phagocytic capacity, and presence of Fc receptors. Glomerular outgrowth from sheep with crescentic glomerulonephritis contained 170 +/- 20 (SEM) macrophages and outgrowths from rabbits with crescentic nephritis contained 64 +/- 6 (SEM) macrophages per glomerulus. We have previously observed large numbers of macrophages in the outgrowth of isolated glomeruli from humans with rapidly progressive crescentic glomerulonephritis. The predominance of the macrophage in cultures of glomeruli from both human and animal crescentic glomerulonephritis suggests that this is an important cell in the inflammatory reaction occurring in crescentic glomerulonephritis and may comprise a substantial proportion of the cells forming the crescent.