The presence of both afferent and efferent renal nerves following renal transplantation was investigated in a canine autotransplant model. The efferent postganglionic sympathetic renal nerves were studied using the glyoxylic acid histofluorescence technique to identify renal tissue adrenergic amines (Grade 0-4). The afferent sensory renal nerves were studied by the systemic blood pressure response to renal arterial injection of capsaicin. In 8 control dogs with native innervated kidneys (Group I), intrarenal injection of capsaicin significantly increased the systemic blood pressure from baseline by 32.4 +/- 6.3 mm. Hg (p less than 0.01). This response was equivalent to the blood pressure increase following injection of capsaicin into the mesenteric artery which was 37.3 +/- 9.8 mm. Hg. The renal tissue histofluorescence grade in this group was 4. Six dogs were studied two to three weeks after autotransplantation of a solitary kidney (Group II). Intrarenal injection of capsaicin did not increase the systemic blood pressure in these animals. Three dogs in this group had no evidence of renal tissue adrenergic amines by histofluorescence (Grade 0); the remaining two animals had renal tissue histofluorescence grades of 1 and 2. Eight dogs were studied 12 to 35 months after autotransplantation of a solitary kidney (Group III). Intrarenal injection of capsaicin in these animals significantly increased the systemic blood pressure from baseline by 10 +/- 1.4 mm. Hg (p less than 0.001). The renal tissue histofluorescence grade in this group ranged from 1 to 3. These data support the presence of both afferent and efferent renal nerves in the kidney at greater than or equal to one year post-transplant.