The ultrastructure of renal tubule cells was studied in the European lesser spotted dogfish by the evaluation of thin sections and freeze fracture replicas. Computer-assisted three-dimensional reconstruction of entire nephrons was performed. The distinction of nephron segments and collecting tubule was made using results of previous histological work. The first proximal tubule segment (PI) consists of two subsequent portions, PIa and PIb. PIa is a component of the lateral countercurrent bundle, and PIb, which displays an apical tubulovesicular apparatus and an extended lysosomal compartment, is located in the vicinity of the glomeruli. Rod-shaped intramembrane particles were detected in PIa. The second proximal tubule segment (PII) is a special segment in elasmobranch and teleost fish. PII differs largely from PI in cell morphology and function. The apical cytoplasm was filled with small clear vesicles, and an apical endocytic apparatus was lacking. In the apical cell membrane, rod-shaped particles were revealed by freeze fracture. The apical tight junctions of PI and PII consisted of seven to ten meandering strands. The distal nephron was subdivided into two major segments: early distal tubule (EDT) in the lateral countercurrent bundles and late distal tubule (LDT) in the mesial tissue. The EDT showed marked amplification of basolateral cell membranes. The tight junctions displayed a low number of continuous parallel strands, which is also characteristically found in the diluting segments of other vertebrates. LDT cells showed cytoplasmic studs and rod-shaped intramembraneous particles at the apical cell membrane, thereby resembling type A intercalated cells of collecting duct. The collecting tubule (CT) emerged from the LDT and was part of the countercurrent arrangement inside the lateral bundles. Tight junctions of LDT and CT consisted of many meandering strands in a honeycomb pattern. With immunohistochemistry, binding sites of a polyclonal antibody against an extraplasmic portion of rat gastric H+-K+-adenosine triphosphatase (ATPase) were observed at the apical cell membrane of PIa, PII, and LDT. From the colocalization of binding sites for the antibody against the transport enzyme with rod-shaped intramembrane particles, we assume that these might be the morphological correlate of gastric H+-K+-ATPase-like enzyme in the renal tubule. © 1993 Wiley-Liss, Inc.