Background: Pentosidine, an advanced glycation end product, accumulates in plasma proteins of uremic patients. Its fate is, however, yet to be fully understood. Methods: Three cell lines, JTC-12 (proximal tubular cells), MDCK (distal tubular cells), and BALB3T3 (nonrenal cells), were cultured in a double chamber system and were exposed to uremic serum, and the contents of protein-linked pentosidine derived from uremic sera were determined in each medium by HPLC assay. The presence of pentosidine in the cytoplasm of these cells was assessed by immunoperoxidase staining. Results: When the apical cell membrane was exposed to uremic serum (fortified in the upper chamber), the contents of protein-linked pentosidine in the upper medium decreased by up to 30% after 24- and 48-hour incubations of JTC-12 cells but not of other cells. On the other hand, the contents of protein-linked pentosidine in the lower medium did not change. By contrast, exposure of the basolateral cell membrane of the three cell lines to uremic serum (fortified in the lower chamber) did not change the contents of protein-linked pentosidine both in the upper and lower medium after a 24-hour incubation. Pentosidine was detected immunohistochemically in the cytoplasm of JTC-12 cells, but not of BALB3T3 and MDCK cells, the apical membranes of which were exposed to uremic sera for 8 h. The immunoreaction disappeared 48 h after exposure. Pentosidine was not detected in the cytoplasm of JTC-12 cells, the basolateral membranes of which were exposed to uremic sera. The relevance of the in vitro results to humans was demonstrated by immunohistochemical studies in normal human kidney tissues showing that pentosidine was identified in the proximal renal tubules. Conclusion: These results suggest that the proximal tubular cells play a role in the disposal of plasma pentosidine.