Membranous nephropathy (MN) is the most common cause of idiopathic nephrotic syndrome in adults and the cause is known to be due to the injury of podocytes located in the glomeruli. Astragalus membranaceus has been used for the treatment of patients with MN in China for a long time. The beneficial effect of Astragalus membranaceus on proteinuria of patients with MN has been well documented. However, the mechanism of astragalus membranaceu in alleviation of MN is still not completely understood. Therefore, in the current study, we employed a podocyte injury model induced by complement membranous attack complex to examine the mechanism of astragalus membraneceus in the treatment of MN. We found that complement membranous attack complex could increase lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) release from podocytes and astragaloside IV (AS-IV) could prevent LDH release from podocytes in a time- and dose-dependent pattern. Moreover, AS-IV restored podocyte morphology and cytoskeleton loss induced by complement membranous attack complex. Furthermore, AS-IV was able to reduce phosphorylation of JNK and ERK1/2 induced by complement membranous attack complex. In conclusion, the mechanism of Astragalus membranaceus in the treatment of MN may be related to its attenuation of podocyte injury through regulation of cytoskeleton and mitogen activated protein kinase. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.