KEY POINTS The reabsorptive activity of renal proximal tubule cells is mediated by receptor-mediated endocytosis and polarized transport systems that reflect final cell differentiation. Loss-of-function mutations of the endosomal chloride-proton exchanger ClC-5 (Dent's disease) cause a major trafficking defect in proximal tubule cells, associated with lysosomal dysfunction, oxidative stress and dedifferentiation/proliferation. A similar but milder defect is associated with mutations in CFTR (cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator). Vesicular chloride transport appears to be important for the integrity of the endolysosomal pathway in epithelial cells. ABSTRACT The epithelial cells lining the proximal tubules of the kidney reabsorb a large amount of filtered ions and solutes owing to receptor-mediated endocytosis and polarized transport systems that reflect final cell differentiation. Dedifferentiation of proximal tubule cells and dysfunction of receptor-mediated endocytosis characterize Dent's disease, a rare disorder caused by inactivating mutations in the CLCN5 gene that encodes the endosomal chloride-proton exchanger, ClC-5. The disease is characterized by a massive urinary loss of solutes (renal Fanconi syndrome), with severe metabolic complications and progressive renal failure. Investigations of mutations affecting the gating of ClC-5 revealed that the proximal tubule dysfunction may occur despite normal endosomal acidification. In addition to defective endocytosis, proximal tubule cells lacking ClC-5 show a trafficking defect in apical receptors and transporters, as well as lysosomal dysfunction and typical features of dedifferentiation, proliferation and oxidative stress. A similar but milder defect is observed in mouse models with defective CFTR, a chloride channel that is also expressed in the endosomes of proximal tubule cells. These data suggest a major role for endosomal chloride transport in the maintenance of epithelial differentiation and reabsorption capacity of the renal proximal tubule.