A monoclonal antibody (A8) to a basement membrane component (TIN antigen), which is associated with autoimmune tubulointerstitial nephritis, was developed and utilized to characterize tissue distribution and properties of TIN antigen by immunofluorescence microscopy and immunoblotting. Results were confirmed with polyclonal goat anti-rabbit and human autoantibodies. TIN antigen was found in basement membranes of kidney cortex, small intestines, skin, and cornea, but was not detected in the renal medulla. Within the kidney cortex proximal tubular basement membrane (TBM) showed the strongest staining. TIN antigen was also detected in Bowman's capsule, distal TBM, peritubular capillaries, and focally in the interstitium, but not in glomerular basement membrane or mesangial matrix. Immunoblotting of SDS-extracted human, rabbit, mouse, and Brown Norway rat TBM with A8 revealed predominantly a 58 kD TIN antigen; however, other reactive components were detected in minor quantities. Bovine TBM contained components of 52 kD, 45 kD and 35 kD in varying concentrations. Immunoblotting of isolated rabbit TIN antigen revealed the major 58 kD component that was characterized previously, and minor components of 300 kD, 175 kD, 160 kD and 50 kD. TIN antigen was not detected in Lewis rat TBM by immunofluorescence or immunoblotting. These studies suggest the following: 1) TIN antigen may be synthesized as a high molecular weight glycoprotein that is processed to smaller forms; 2) it may be covalently associated with other basement membrane components; 3) the antibody reactive epitope may be present on multiple TBM components; and 4) high molecular weight forms may represent aggregates of TIN antigen. These studies further characterize TIN antigen distribution in kidney, demonstrate its presence in extrarenal tissues, and reveal various molecular weight forms in isolated TBM preparations.