Excessive extracellular matrix (ECM) accumulation is the main feature of chronic renal disease including diabetic nephropathy. Plasminogen activator inhibitor (PAI)-1 is known to play an important role in renal ECM accumulation in part through suppression of plasmin generation and matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) activation. The present study examined the effect of PAI-1 antisense oligodeoxynucleotide (ODN) on fibronectin upregulation and plasmin/MMP suppression in primary mesangial cells cultured under high glucose (HG) or transforming growth factor (TGF)-β 1, major mediators of diabetic renal ECM accumulation. Growth arrested and synchronized rat primary mesangial cells were transfected with 1 μM phosphorothioate-modified antisense or control mis-match ODN for 24 hours with cationic liposome and then stimulated with 30 mM D-glucose or 2 ng/ml TGF-β 1. PAI-1 or fibronectin protein was measured by Western blot analysis. Plasmin activity was determined using a synthetic fluorometric plasmin substrate and MMP-2 activity analyzed using zymography. HG and TGF-β 1 significantly increased PAI-1 and fibronectin protein expression as well as decreased plasmin and MMP-2 activity. Transient transfection of mesangial cells with PAI-1 antisense ODN, but not mis-match ODN, effectively reversed basal as well as HG- and TGF-β 1-induced suppression of plasmin and MMP-2 activity. Both basal and upregulated fibronectin secretion were also inhibited by PAI-1 antisense ODN. These data confirm that PAI-1 plays an important role in ECM accumulation in diabetic mesangium through suppression of protease activity and suggest that PAI-1 antisense ODN would be an effective therapeutic strategy for prevention of renal fibrosis including diabetic nephropathy.