Long-term use of cyclosporine after renal transplantation results in nephrotoxicity and an increased cardiovascular risk profile. Tacrolimus may be more favorable in this respect. In this randomized controlled study in 124 renal transplant patients, the effects of conversion from cyclosporine to tacrolimus on renal function, cardiovascular risk factors, and perceived side-effects were investigated after a follow-up of 2 years. After conversion from cyclosporine to tacrolimus renal function remained stable, whereas continuation of cyclosporine was accompanied by a rise in serum creatinine from 142 +/- 48 micromol/L to 157 +/- 62 micromol/L (p < 0.05 comparing both groups). Conversion to tacrolimus resulted in a sustained reduction in systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and a sustained improvement in the serum lipid profile, leading to a reduction in the Framingham risk score from 5.7 +/- 4.3 to 4.8 +/- 5.3 (p < 0.05). Finally, conversion to tacrolimus resulted in decreased scores for occurrence of and distress due to side-effects. In conclusion, conversion from cyclosporine to tacrolimus in stable renal transplant patients is beneficial with respect to renal function, cardiovascular risk profile, and side-effects. Therefore, for most renal transplant patients tacrolimus will be the drug of choice when long-term treatment with a calcineurin inhibitor is indicated.