To examine the expression and distribution pattern of neural cell adhesion molecule (N-CAM) and pan-cadherin immunoreactivity in intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR) newborn kidneys, we used a rat model of maternal protein restriction throughout pregnancy. Weak or moderate immunoreactivity for N-CAM and pan-cadherin was seen in some proximal tubules, in the thick segments of Henle, and in the collecting tubules of the control sections. However, the number of tubules expressing N-CAM and pan-cadherin was increased in the IUGR group compared with the control group. Increased density of N-CAM and pan-cadherin immunoreactivity was observed mostly in the proximal tubules, in the thick segments of Henle, and in the collecting tubules of IUGR newborn rat kidneys. Furthermore, N-CAM and pan-cadherin immunoreactivity was present in the thin limb of Henle in the IUGR group, whereas it was absent in the control group. Glomeruli were negative in both groups except for some glomeruli that showed very weak N-CAM staining in the IUGR group. Thus it was demonstrated for the first time that IUGR newborn rat kidneys express NCAM and cadherin adhesion molecules at specific sites of the nephron.