Percutaneous nephrolithotomy (PCNL) involves gaining access into the urinary collecting system to remove kidney stones. Animal studies demonstrated that a reduction in renal filtration and perfusion in both kidneys, and a decline in tubular organic anion transport in the treated kidney characterizes the acute (hours) functional response to unilateral percutaneous access. The acute morphologic and histological changes in the treated kidney were consistent with blunt trauma and ischemia. Only tubular organic anion transport remained depressed during the late (3-day) response to the access procedure. Human studies revealed an acute decline in glomerular function and bilateral renal vasoconstriction following unilateral PCNL. Therefore, percutaneous access is not a benign procedure, but is associated with acute functional and structural derangements.