The present study was conducted to determine the manner in which monocytes increase mesangial matrices, particularly glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) which interact with various other matrix components such as collagens, laminin, fibronectin and lipoproteins. A supernatant of human peripheral blood monocyte cultures activated by lipopolysaccharide (LPS) contains stimulating factors for glycosaminoglycan synthesis in rat mesangial cells (MCs). The culture supernatant in this study was concentrated and fractionated by gel chromatography and the GAG-stimulatory factor was found to have a molecular weight of 10-17 kD. This factor was shown to be present in fractions different from that of IL-1. Gel and ion-exchange chromatography studies of GAGs synthesized by MCs indicated the elution patterns of GAGs in the presence and absence of the monocyte culture supernatant to be essentially the same. Local infiltration of monocytes into the glomerulus, often seen in various types of glomerular injury, may be an important factor in the accumulation of the mesangial matrix.