Background. Leukocyte infiltration is a common feature in renal biopsies from patients with acute poststreptococcal glomerulonephritis (APSGN). Cationic streptococcal erythrogenic toxin type B (ETB) and its precursor (ETBP) have been implicated in the pathogenesis of the disease, and the presence of ETB has been evidenced in renal biopsies from patients with APSGN. The present studies were performed to determine the effect of the ETBP and ETB on renal leukocyte infiltration and the mechanism(s) implicated in the phenomenon. Methods. Male Sprague-Dawley rats were injected intrarenally with 100 μg of ETB or ETBP. Animals were sacrificed at 1, 6 and 24 h after injection and renal samples were studied by indirect immunofluorescence for the presence of leukocyte common antigen (LCA+) cells, C3, monocyte chemotactic protein-1 (MCP-1) and intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1), and by direct immunofluorescence for the presence of immunoglobulins. ETB and ETBP were tested for chemotactic effect and migration inhibition factor (MIF) activity by chemotaxis under agarose and agarose microdroplet methods, respectively. Streptococcal proteins were also tested for the capacity to induce MIF activity in rat glomerular cultures. To test for the influence of cationic charge on renal LCA+ cell infiltration, rats were injected with cationized ferritin or polyethyleneimine (PEI) and sacrificed 1 h later. Results. An increased number of LCA+ cells was found in glomeruli and interstitial areas in ETB- or ETBP-injected animals. ETB and ETBP showed chemotactic and MIF activity on neutrophils and macrophages, and ETBP induced MIF activity in supernatants of glomerular cultures. Data obtained from C3, MCP-1, ICAM-1 or immunoglobulin renal staining in experimental animals were not significantly different when compared to control values. Cationized compounds failed to induce LCA+ cell infiltration; however, an increased number of glomerular LCA+ cells was observed after PEI perfusion. Conclusions. ETB and ETBP induce renal LCA+ cell infiltration during a short period after intrarenal injection, and this finding could be mediated by chemotactic and MIF activities. These observations could be relevant in the early events of pathogenesis of APSGN.