Kidney transplantation without prior dialysis may prevent dialysis-associated morbidity. We analyzed the outcome of 1113 first kidney transplants in children performed between 1990 and 2000 in the Eurotransplant community. Enlistment for a deceased donor kidney before start of dialysis (127/895, 14%) made dialysis redundant in 55% of cases. Mean residual creatinine clearance at transplantation of these patients was 8 mL/min/1.73 m(2). Pre-emptive transplantations of deceased donor kidneys showed less acute rejections (52% vs. 37% rejection-free at 3 years, p = 0.039), compared to transplantations following dialysis. The difference in graft survival between non-dialyzed and dialyzed patients (82% vs. 69% at 6 year) did not reach statistical significance (p = 0.055). No differences were noted after living donor transplantation. Multivariate analysis showed that the period of transplantation was the strongest predictor of graft survival (p < 0.001). Congenital structural abnormalities such as primary kidney disease predominated in nondialyzed patients as compared to dialyzed patients (p < 0.001); this factor did not influence graft survival. Based on our conclusion that pre-emptive transplantation is at least as good as post-dialysis transplantation, as well as on quality of life arguments, we recommend to consider pre-emptive transplantation in children with end-stage renal failure.