Coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death in both diabetes mellitus and end-stage renal disease. Although renal transplantation is known to reduce mortality in end-stage renal disease, its effect on the incidence of acute coronary syndromes is unknown. Using data from the United States Renal Data System, we studied 11,369 patients with end-stage renal disease due to diabetes enrolled on the renal and renal-pancreas transplant waiting list from 1 July 1994 to 30 June 1997. Cox nonproportional hazards regression models were used to calculate the adjusted, time-dependent relative risk for the most recent hospitalization for acute coronary syndromes (including acute myocardial infarction, unstable angina, or other acute coronary syndromes, ICD9 Code 410.x or 411.x) for a given patient in the study period. Demographics and comorbidities were controlled by using data from the medical evidence form (HCFA 2728). After renal transplantation, patients had an incidence of acute coronary syndromes of 0.79% per patient year, compared to 1.67% per patient year prior to transplantation. In comparison to maintenance dialysis, renal transplantation was independently associated with a lower risk for acute coronary syndromes (hazard ratio 0.38, 95% confidence interval, 0.30-0.49). Patients with end-stage renal disease due to diabetes on the renal transplant waiting list were much less likely to be hospitalized for acute coronary syndromes after renal transplantation. The reasons for this decreased risk should be the subject of further study.