High-molecular-weight organic compounds such as humic acids and/or fulvic acids that are naturally mobilized from lignite beds into untreated drinking-water supplies were suggested as one possible cause of Balkan endemic nephropathy (BEN) and cancer of the renal pelvis. A lab investigation was undertaken in order to assess the nephrotoxic potential of such organic compounds using an in vitro tissue culture model. Because of the infeasibility of exposing kidney tissue to low concentrations of organics for years in the lab, tangential flow ultrafiltration was employed to hyperconcentrate samples suitable for discerning effects in the short time frames necessitated by tissue culture systems. Effects on HK-2 kidney cells were measured using two different cell proliferation assays (MTT and alamarBlue). Results demonstrated that exposure of kidney tissue to high-molecular-weight organics produced excess cell death or proliferation depending on concentration and duration of exposure. Copyright ?? Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.