PURPOSE: The aim of the study was to investigate microstructural changes occurring in unilateral renal ischemia-reperfusion injury in a murine animal model using synchrotron radiation. MATERIAL AND METHODS: The effects of renal ischemia-reperfusion were investigated in a murine animal model of unilateral ischemia. Kidney samples were harvested on day 18. Grating-Based Phase-Contrast Imaging (GB-PCI) of the paraffin-embedded kidney samples was performed at a Synchrotron Radiation Facility (beam energy of 19 keV). To obtain phase information, a two-grating Talbot interferometer was used applying the phase stepping technique. The imaging system provided an effective pixel size of 7.5 µm. The resulting attenuation and differential phase projections were tomographically reconstructed using filtered back-projection. Semi-automated segmentation and volumetry and correlation to histopathology were performed. RESULTS: GB-PCI provided good discrimination of the cortex, outer and inner medulla in non-ischemic control kidneys. Post-ischemic kidneys showed a reduced compartmental differentiation, particularly of the outer stripe of the outer medulla, which could not be differentiated from the inner stripe. Compared to the contralateral kidney, after ischemia a volume loss was detected, while the inner medulla mainly retained its volume (ratio 0.94). Post-ischemic kidneys exhibited severe tissue damage as evidenced by tubular atrophy and dilatation, moderate inflammatory infiltration, loss of brush borders and tubular protein cylinders. CONCLUSION: In conclusion GB-PCI with synchrotron radiation allows for non-destructive microstructural assessment of parenchymal kidney disease and vessel architecture. If translation to lab-based approaches generates sufficient density resolution, and with a time-optimized image analysis protocol, GB-PCI may ultimately serve as a non-invasive, non-enhanced alternative for imaging of pathological changes of the kidney.