Many chemical compounds which induce oxidative stress in the tissue produce carcinogenesis either alone or act as a tumor promoter in carcinogen-initiated animals after prolonged exposure. Here, we report that potassium bromate (KBrO3) induces renal proliferative response and damage by elaborating oxidative stress. KBrO3 administration dose dependently induced renal ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) activity several fold compared to its activity in saline-treated rats. Similarly renal DNA synthesis which has been measured as [3H]thymidine incorporation in DNA also increases. KBrO3 administration also depleted the level of renal glutathione and glutathione reductase activity in a time dependent manner. The maximum depletion in the levels of renal glutathione and glutathione reductase activity was observed 3 h after KBrO3 treatment which was 60 and 40%, respectively, of saline-treated controls. Parallel to these changes, a sharp increase in the blood urea nitrogen and serum creatinine levels was observed which is indicative of the concurrent renal damage. These results suggest that oxidant generating KBrO3 acts as a potent proliferator of kidney and acts by producing oxidative damage. Copyright (C) 1999 Elsevier Science Ireland Ltd.