The UW solution for preservation of the liver, kidney, and pancreas contains a number of components, and the importance of each of these has not been fully resolved. In the studies reported here the importance of glutathione and adenosine is demonstrated in isolated cell models (rabbit renal tubules and rat liver hepatocytes) of hypothermic preservation and reperfusion and in dog renal transplantation. Glutathione in the UW solution is necessary for the preservation of the capability of the cell to regenerate ATP and maintain membrane integrity. Adenosine in the UW solution provides the preserved cell with substrates for the regeneration of ATP during the reperfusion period following cold storage. The omission of GHS from the UW solution results in poorer renal function in the 48 hr dog kidney preservation-transplant model. The role of other components of the UW solution is discussed including lactobionic acid; other impermeants; and the colloid, hydroxyethyl starch. It is concluded that the development of improved preservation solutions will require a more detailed understanding of the mechanism of injury due to cold storage and, once obtained, solutions more complex than the UW solution may be required for improved long-term storage of organs.