We examined renin processing in cultured juxtaglomerular (JG) cells of the hydronephrotic mouse kidney with immunocytochemical and biochemical techniques. Compared with JG cells in normal kidneys, there was less intense labeling for renin protein in mature granules of cultured JG cells. However, pro-renin labeling of transport vesicles and juvenile granules was maintained, suggesting incomplete passage of pro-renin through intermediate and mature granules. Immunogold evidence of exocytosis of mature granules containing renin protein was present at all stages. Labeling of transport vesicles for pro-renin, together with the absence of exocytosis of pro-renin from juvenile granules, indicated that pro-renin was exclusively released by a constitutive process. Active renin release into supernatants decreased with time, whereas the ratio of total renin to active renin increased, indicating that pro-renin synthesis and release were maintained but that the processing of pro-renin to active renin was interrupted. Angiotensin II inhibited and verapamil stimulated active renin release in culture; neither substance affected pro-renin release. Application of secretagogues that act via intracellular calcium or cAMP resulted in depletion of mature granules and their deformation by myelin figures and vacuoles, findings consistent with an exocytosis from mature granules. The absence of effect of any secretagogues on pro-renin release suggests that these stimulatory mechanisms are exclusively post-Golgi. In cultured JG cells in renal explants, renin vesicular transport and granular exocytosis are maintained but a defect in pro-renin passage from juvenile to intermediate granules is apparent.