Using a peroxidase-antiperoxidase staining procedure, formalin fixed paraffin embedded sections of fetal and normal kidney; benign (mesoblastic nephroma); and malignant tumours (Wilms' tumour, clear cell renal carcinoma, rhabdoid renal tumour, and bone metastasising renal tumour of childhood (BMRTC] were examined for their reactivity with antisera to fibronectin, laminin, and epithelial membrane antigen. Mesoblastic nephroma contained fibronectin but no laminin. Most Wilms' tumours lacked both fibronectin and laminin; 50% of rhabdoid renal tumours were positive for fibronectin and laminin--rhabdoid tumours as recognised morphologically may, in fact, be two separate entities. BMRTC and clear cell renal carcinoma lacked both fibronectin and laminin. Epithelial membrane antigen was present in most of the tubular Wilms' tumour but absent in blastemal Wilms' tumours. The presence of epithelial membrane antigen in rhabdoid tumours was surprising, as histologically, this type of tumour shows no sign of epithelial differentiation. Epithelial membrane antigen antiserum stained clear cell renal carcinomas: epithelial membrane antigen is found in the distal and not the proximal tubules of fetal and normal kidneys. Thus an obvious interpretation is that clear cell renal carcinomas originate from distal rather than from proximal tubules, as has always been thought. On the basis of these results and data from other published findings some possible histogenetic origins of childhood renal tumours were proposed.
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