Urinary enzyme testing has been used by many investigators to diagnose and monitor various types of renal injury. Three urinary enzymes, N-acetyl-beta-glucosaminidase, beta-galactosidase and gamma-glutamyl transferase were monitored in 17 patients before and after a single, unilateral extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy treatment. Stones were in the renal pelvis or calices except for 1 treated in situ in the proximal ureter. Urine specimens were collected before extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy and at 1, 3, 5, 7, 10, 14, 21 and 28 days after treatment. N-acetyl-beta-glucosaminidase and beta-galactosidase levels increased significantly after treatment (p less than 0.05). Gamma-glutamyl transferase levels increased after treatment but this was not statistically significant. All enzyme levels were highest on days 1 and 3 after lithotripsy and returned to baseline by day 28. Factors associated with post-treatment enzyme elevation included female sex, a lower pre-treatment creatinine clearance and stone size greater than 1 cm. These findings indicate that there is a transient selective increase in urinary enzyme excretion after extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy.