Administration of retinoic acid, the active metabolite of vitamin A, is linked to the stimulation of nephrogenesis. The aim of this study was to determine whether early postnatal administration of retinoic acid (RA) could enhance ongoing nephrogenesis in a baboon model of premature birth. Unbiased stereological methods were employed to estimate kidney volume, renal corpuscle volume and nephron number. The percentage of abnormal glomeruli and the number of glomerular generations were also determined in the kidneys of preterm control (n=6) and preterm +RA (n=6) animals that received 500 mug/kg/day of all-trans retinoic acid following premature delivery. There was no significant difference between the preterm control and the preterm +RA groups in kidney size, nephron number (preterm control: 329,924 +/- 41,752; preterm +RA: 354,041 +/- 52,095; p = 0.59), renal corpuscle volume, number of glomerular generations, or the percentage of abnormal glomeruli. The proportion of abnormal glomeruli did not appear to be linked to any elements of postnatal care examined. The results of this study indicate that early postnatal administration of retinoic acid is unable to stimulate nephrogenesis in the kidney of the preterm baboon. Encouragingly, it does not appear to have any adverse effects on kidney development.