Calcineurin inhibitors have decreased acute rejection and improved early renal allograft survival, but their use has been implicated in the development of chronic nephrotoxicity. We performed a prospective, randomized trial in kidney transplantation comparing sirolimus-MMF-prednisone to tacrolimus-MMF-prednisone. Eighty-one patients in the sirolimus group and 84 patients in the tacrolimus group were enrolled (mean follow-up = 33 months; range 13-47 months). At 1 year, patient survival was similar in the groups (98% with sirolimus, 96% with tacrolimus; p = 0.42) as was graft survival (94% sirolimus vs. 92% tacrolimus, p = 0.95). The incidence of clinical acute rejection was 10% in the tacrolimus group and 13% in the sirolimus group (p = 0.58). There was no difference in mean GFR measured by iothalamate clearance between the tacrolimus and sirolimus groups at 1 year (61 +/- 19 mL/min vs. 63 +/- 18 mL/min, p = 0.57) or 2 years (61 +/- 17 mL/min vs. 61 +/- 19 mL/min, p = 0.84). At 1 year, chronicity using the Banff schema showed no difference in interstitial, tubular or glomerular changes, but fewer chronic vascular changes in the sirolimus group. This study shows that a CNI-free regimen using sirolimus-MMF-prednisone produces similar acute rejection rates, graft survival and renal function 1-2 years after transplantation compared to tacrolimus-MMF-prednisone.