CD138/Syndecan-1 is a cell-surface heparan sulfate proteoglycan expressed on most epithelial cells, and decreased CD138 expression is associated with increased invasive and metastatic potential in carcinomas. CD138 expression has not been investigated previously in renal neoplasms. Formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissue sections of 50 renal cell carcinomas (RCCs) (40 clear-cell RCCs of various nuclear grades, 10 of which harbored metastases; 6 papillary RCCs, 4 chromophobe RCCs) and 4 oncocytomas were stained immunohistochemically for CD138 using the monoclonal antibody B-B4 (CD138). Staining intensity and distribution were scored and results related to histologic type, nuclear grade, and local stage (pT). Immunoreactivity was membranous in all clear-cell RCCs, chromophobe RCCs, and oncocytomas and was located at the basal aspect of cytoplasm in papillary RCCs. In clear-cell RCCs, the extent of CD138 immunoreactivity decreased with increasing nuclear grade (P<0.001). No significant correlation was found between CD138 immunoreactivity and histologic type (P=0.2) or local stage (P=0.7). Metastatic foci showed a mild to moderate decrease in intensity compared with primary tumor. Decreased expression of CD138 may have a role in more aggressive behavior of clear-cell RCC. Copyright © 2006 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.