Renal failure continues to carry substantial burden of morbidity and mortality in both acute and chronic forms, despite advances in transplantation and dialysis. There is evidence to suggest that the kidney has metabolic, endocrine, and immune effects transcending its filtration functions, even beyond secretion of renin and erythropoietin. Our laboratory has developed experience in the tissue culture of renal parenchymal cells, and has now been able to demonstrate the metabolic activity of these cells in an extracorporeal circuit recapitulating glomerulotubular anatomy. We have observed active transport of sodium, glucose, and glutathione. We describe the design and initial preclinical testing of the bioartificial kidney, as well as future directions of our research.