Rabbit proximal nephron segments were microperfused in vitro to determine whether active contraluminal uptake of serine occurs in the renal proximal tubule during bath-to-lumen transport (influx) of the L- and D-isomers in the convoluted (pars convoluta) and straight (pars recta) segments. It is known that several amino acids are actively reabsorbed in the proximal nephron by a mechanism involving co-transport with sodium at the luminal membrane. There is some evidence that certain amino acids may also be accumulated across the contraluminal membrane by an energy-dependent mechanism, indicating that net reabsorption is the result of two oppositely directed active transport processes. During in vitro microperfusion of rabbit proximal nephron segments in this study, inward movement of L- and D-serine occurred in a bath-to-cell direction against a concentration gradient in the range 305-2735:1, indicating active uptake at the contraluminal membrane. The concentration gradients were maintained during influx of both isomers of serine in the proximal tubule. L-Serine accumulation by tubular cells was similar in the pars convoluta and recta, and significantly greater than that of D-serine, which was the same in both regions of the proximal tubule. The data support the conclusion that renal handling of serine involves active contraluminal uptake of the L- and D-isomers in both regions of the proximal tubule, and suggest that contraluminal events play an important role in renal handling of amino acids.