Controversy exists as to whether minimal change disease (MCD) and focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) represent different diseases or are manifestations within the same disease spectrum. Urinary excretion of CD80 (also known as B7.1) is elevated in patients with MCD and hence we tested whether urinary CD80 excretion might distinguish between patients with MCD from those with FSGS. Urinary CD80 was measured in 17 patients with biopsy-proven MCD and 22 with proven FSGS using a commercially available enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and its molecular size determined by western blot analysis. A significant increase in urinary CD80, normalized to urinary creatinine, was found in patients with MCD in relapse compared to those in remission or those with FSGS. No significant differences were seen when CD80 urinary excretion from MCD patients in remission were compared to those with FSGS. In seven of eight MCD patients in relapse, CD80 was found in glomeruli by immunohistochemical analysis of their biopsy specimen. No CD80 was found in glomeruli of two patients with FSGS and another MCD patient in remission. Thus, our study supports the hypothesis that MCD and FSGS represent two different diseases rather than a continuum of one disease. Urinary CD80 excretion may be a useful marker to differentiate between MCD and FSGS.