To determine the concentrations and molecular forms of urinary IgA in IgA nephropathy and Henoch-Schoenlein purpura, we studied 29 patients with these IgA-associated renal diseases (IgAN). Control groups comprised 10 patients with other diverse renal diseases and 11 healthy volunteers. Urinary IgA and IgG concentrations were higher in IgAN than in either control group and correlated positively with the serum creatinine concentration as well as the urinary protein excretion (P<0.01). However, IgA/IgG ratios did not differ among the three groups. Polymeric IgA (p-IgA) in the urine predominated only in normals; in IgAN and patients with other renal diseases, monomeric IgA (m-IgA) occurred almost exclusively. Serum IgA concentrations were generally normal in IgAN; four patients had concentrations greater than 500 mg/dl. Although the fraction of p-IgA in serum (median, 18%) was increased above normal (5-10%) in 13 of 16 (81%) subjects, neither the concentration of IgA or IgG nor the amount of p-IgA correlated with the serum creatinine concentration. These data suggest that the molecular form and concentration of urinary IgA are not discriminating for IgAN and are independent of these characteristics of serum IgA. © 1985 Plenum Publishing Corporation.