The purpose of our study is to assess the extent of racial differences in the access to simultaneous pancreas-kidney (SPK) transplantation and evaluate the potential influence of socioeconomic factors on access to transplantation. We performed a retrospective analysis of the US Renal Data System and United Network for Organ Sharing data on all patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) due to diabetes mellitus from 1988 to 1996 (n = 562, 814), including all dialysis, wait list, and transplant patients. Racial differences in incidence, prevalence, insurance coverage, employment status, and transplantation rates were calculated. Caucasians had the highest prevalence of ESRD caused by type 1 diabetes (73%), followed by blacks (22%), Hispanics (3%), Native Americans (2%), and others (<1%). Both blacks and Native Americans increased their annual incidence of ESRD caused by insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus by 10% compared with only a 3.5% increase in Caucasians, whereas incidence rates increased annually by almost 8% for both blacks and Native Americans compared with a 3% increase for Caucasians. However, Caucasians received 92% of all SPK transplants, whereas all other racial groups combined received a disproportionate minority of the remaining transplants. Lack of private insurance and unemployment status were associated with annual changes in both incidence of ESRD caused by type 1 diabetes and SPK transplant rates. In conclusion, we observed striking racial disparities for access to SPK transplantation in the United States today, which may be related to employment status, access to private insurance, and subsequent health care. Our preliminary data support current efforts to encourage Medicare and Medicaid coverage for all patients requiring SPK transplantation regardless of racial or financial status.