Thyroid hormone (T3), a known stimulator of renal proximal tubular brush border membrane Na-dependent phosphate (Pi) uptake (Na/Pi-cotransport), stimulated Na-dependent Pi transport in opossum kidney (OK) cells. Na/Pi-cotransport was stimulated in a time- and dose-dependent manner with maximal effects (57%) at 24 h and 10(-10) M T3. This stimulation was related to an increase in the apparent capacity (Vmax) of Na/Pi-cotransport. Treatment with T3 had no effect on Na-independent transport of Pi or of L-arginine. The stimulation of Na/Pi-cotransport was paralleled by an increase in the messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) encoding the OK cell apical Na/Pi-cotransporter (termed NaPi-4); the mRNA levels related to the activity of Na-independent L-arginine transport (rBAT) were unaffected by T3. Actinomycin D (10(-7) M) completely prevented the stimulatory effect of T3 on OK cell Na/Pi-cotransport and on NaPi-4 mRNA content. In conclusion, T3 stimulates apical Na/Pi-cotransport in OK cells most likely by enhancing its transcription.