A 20-mer phosphorothioate oligonucleotide (AS1) was designed to hybridize to the message for the rat kidney sodium phosphate cotransporter NaPi-2 close to the translation initiation site. Single intravenous doses of this oligonucleotide were given to rats maintained on a low phosphorus diet to increase NaPi-2 expression. At 3 days after oligonucleotide infusion, rats receiving 2.5 micromol of AS1 exhibited a reduction in renal NaPi-2 to cyclophilin mRNA ratio by 40% +/- 17%, and rats receiving 7.5 micromol of AS1 exhibited a reduction in NaPi-2 to cyclophilin mRNA ratio by 46% +/- 21%. Reversed-sequence AS1 was without effect. The higher dose of 7.5 micromol of AS1 also reduced the rate of phosphate uptake into renal brush border membrane vesicles and the expression of NaPi-2 protein detected by Western blotting in these vesicles. Reversed sequence AS1 was again without effect on these parameters. These results suggest that systemically infused oligonucleotides can exert antisense effects in the renal proximal tubule.