The glomerular filtration barrier consists of podocytes, the glomerular basement membrane, and endothelial cells covered with a glycocalyx. Heparan sulphate (HS) in the glomerular filtration barrier is reduced in patients with proteinuria, which is associated with increased expression of the HS-degrading enzyme heparanase. Previously, we showed that heparanase is essential for the development of proteinuria in experimental diabetic nephropathy. Vitamin D supplementation reduces podocyte loss and proteinuriain vitroandin vivo. Therefore, we hypothesize that vitamin D reduces proteinuria by reducing glomerular heparanase. Adriamycin-exposed rats developed proteinuria and showed increased heparanase expression, which was reduced by 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1,25-D3) treatment.In vitro, adriamycin increased heparanase mRNA in the podocyte, which could be corrected by 1,25-D3 treatment. In addition, 1,25-D3 treatment reduced transendothelial albumin passage after adriamycin stimulation. In line with these results, we showed direct binding of the vitamin D receptor to the heparanase promoter, and 1,25-D3 dose-dependently reduced heparanase promoter activity. Finally, 1,25-D3-deficient 25-hydroxy-1α-hydroxylase knockout mice developed proteinuria and showed increased heparanase, which was normalized by 1,25-D3 treatment. Our data suggest that the protective effect of vitamin D on the development of proteinuria is mediated by inhibiting heparanase expression in the podocyte. Copyright © 2015 Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.