Immunosuppression with rapid discontinuation of corticosteroids, usually with induction therapy, is safe in kidney transplant recipients. In 89 patients, we induced immunosuppression with basiliximab or rabbit antithymocyte globulin (17 and 72 patients, respectively). Selection criteria for basiliximab were age (>or=65 years), history (malignancy; chronic infection), and type 1 diabetes mellitus (eligible for pancreas transplant). Steroids were administered through posttransplantation day 4 (five doses); maintenance immunosuppression was with tacrolimus and mycophenolate mofetil. At last follow-up (average, 286 days), most patients were steroid-free (antithymocyte globulin, 90%; basiliximab, 88%). Protocol biopsies were performed at 1, 4, and 12 months posttransplantation. The overall risk of biopsy-proven acute rejection was 12%. At 6 months posttransplantation, acute rejection-free survival was 93% for antithymocyte globulin, 65% for basiliximab (P<.001). Median time to biopsy-proven acute rejection was 27 and 71 days, respectively. The low incidence of biopsy-proven acute rejection with steroid-avoidance immunosuppression may be further reduced with antithymocyte globulin.