Renal transplantation is considered to be a good treatment option for patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and end-stage renal disease. However, in patients with glomerular diseases, the outcome of renal transplantation can be adversely affected by recurrence of the original disease. Furthermore, the post-transplant course might be complicated by pre-transplant morbidity and treatment history. We studied the outcome of renal transplantation in patients with SLE who underwent transplantations in our center between 1968 and 2001. Patient and graft survival were compared with a matched control group. We specifically looked for any evidence of recurrent disease. There were 23 patients (two male, 21 female) with a mean +/-SD age of 34+/-12 years at transplantation. One patient developed renal failure with serological evidence of SLE activity at 61 months after transplantation. In the absence of urine abnormalities we favored the diagnosis of rejection, although recurrence of lupus nephritis could not formally be excluded. This was the only case of a possible recurrence of lupus nephritis. Two other patients developed extra-renal manifestations of SLE at 6 and 17 months after transplantation. Patient and graft survival rates at 5 years after transplantation were 86% and 68%, respectively. Survival rates were not significantly different from those of a matched control group, 95% and 78%, respectively. Recurrence of SLE after transplantation is rare. The results of renal transplantation in patients with SLE do not differ significantly from a matched control group. Renal transplantation is a good alternative for renal replacement therapy in patients with lupus nephritis.