Tumor necrosis factor receptor 2 (TNFR2) is strongly upregulated on renal tubular epithelial cells by acute cell-mediated rejection (ACR. In human kidney organ culture, TNFR2 signaling both upregulates TNFR2 expression and promotes cell cycle entry of tubular epithelial cells. We find significantly more cells express CD133 mRNA and protein, a putative stem cell marker, in allograft biopsy samples with ACR compared to acute tubular injury without rejection or pretransplant "normal kidney" biopsy samples. Of CD133+ cells, ~85% are within injured tubules and ~15% are interstitial. Both populations express stem cell marker TRA-1-60 and TNFR2, but only tubular CD133+ cells express proximal tubular markers megalin and aquaporin-1. TNFR2+ CD133+ cells in tubules express proliferation marker phospho-histone H3S10 (pH3S10 ). Tubular epithelial cells in normal kidney organ cultures respond to TNFR2 signaling by expressing CD133 mRNA and protein, stem cell marker TRA-1-60, and pH3S10 within 3 hours of treatment. This rapid response time suggests that CD133+ cells in regenerating tubules of kidneys undergoing ACR represent proliferating tubular epithelial cells with TNFR2-induced stem cell markers rather than expansion of resident stem cells. Infiltrating host mononuclear cells are a likely source of TNF as these changes are absent in acute tubular injury . © 2020 The Authors. American Journal of Transplantation published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of The American Society of Transplantation and the American Society of Transplant Surgeon.