An unusually high incidence of kidney disease (tubular degeneration and necrosis with fibrous replacement) was observed among 24 beagles injected at about 5 years of age with 116 or 329 kBq 226Ra kg-1 but not among an additional 10 beagles given about 39 kBq 226Ra kg-1. This 226Ra solution also contained 210Pb, 210Bi, and 210Po. To determine whether the kidney disease was related to the radiation from 226Ra and its short-lived progeny or to the alpha radiation from 210Po, 2 beagles about 7 years of age were injected with 451 kBq 226Ra kg-1 of 210Po citrate. Measurements of polonium retention in the kidneys of 4 additional beagles given 210Bi citrate enabled us to model the retention of these emitters in the dog kidney and to estimate the kidney dose from the alpha radiation of 210Po following injection of either 226Ra + 210Bi + 210Po or 210Po only. Autoradiography revealed that almost equal concentrations of 210Po were in the tubular epithelium and/or its basement membrane and in the glomeruli, but very little of the 210Bi deposited in kidney tissue was present in the glomeruli. Radiation damage to the kidneys similar to that observed previously in beagles given 226Ra solutions that also contained 210Bi and 210Po was seen among the beagles given 210Po but not in the dogs given purified 226Ra. The analysis of these data indicated that the relatively high incidence of kidney disease among the mature beagles injected with 226Ra and its accompanying 210Bi and 210Po resulted from alpha irradiation of the kidneys by the substantial amount of 210Po that was in the injection solution.