Cystatin C (Cys C) has been shown to be an alternative marker of renal function. However, estimation of the glomerular filtration rate (GFR) based on Cys C has received little attention. Recently, several Cys C-based equations were developed in different patient cohorts. To date, the benefit of a Cys C-based GFR calculation in patients after renal transplantation (RTx) remains to be elucidated. We compared the diagnostic accuracy of three Cys C-based formulae (Larsson, Hoek, Filler which used an immunonephelometric method) with the results of the Modification of Diet in Renal Disease (MDRD) formula. GFR was measured by means of technetium-diethylenetriamine pentaacetic acid ((99m)Tc-DTPA) clearance in 108 consecutive patients after RTx. Correlation coefficients of all calculated GFR estimates with the true GFR were high but did not differ significantly from one another (0.83-0.87). The MDRD and Filler equations overestimated GFR significantly, whereas the Larsson equation significantly underestimated GFR. Bias of the Hoek formula was negligible. Precision of the Hoek (8.9 ml/min/1.73 m(2)) and Larsson equations (9.6 ml/min/1.73 m(2)) were significantly better than MDRD equations (11.4 ml/min/1.73 m(2); P< or =0.035 each). Accuracy within 30% of real GFR was 67.0 and 65.1% for the MDRD and Filler formulae, and 77.1% for the Larsson and Hoek formulae, respectively. Accuracy within 50% of true GFR for the Hoek formula (97.2%) was better than for the MDRD equations (85.3%). Cys C-based formulae may provide a better diagnostic performance than creatinine-based equations in GFR calculation after RTx.