Urinary tract infections (UTIs) and acute pyelonephritis (APN) often occur after renal transplantation, but their impact on graft outcome is unclear. One hundred and seventy-seven consecutive renal transplantations were investigated to evaluate the impact of UTIs and APN on graft function. The cumulative incidence of UTIs was 75.1% and that of APN was 18.7%. UTIs occurred mainly during the first year after transplantation and Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Enteroccocus sp. were the most frequent pathogens identified. The risk of developing APN was higher in female (64%) than in male recipients, and was correlated with the frequency of recurrent UTIs (p < 0.0001) and rejection episodes (p = 0.0003). APN did not alter graft or recipient survival, however, compared to patients with uncomplicated UTIs, patients with APN exhibited both a significant increase in serum creatinine and a decrease in creatinine clearance, already detected after 1 year (aMDRD-GFR: APN: 39.5 +/- 12.5; uncomplicated UTI: 54.6 +/- 21.7 mL/min/1.73 m(2), p < 0.01) and still persistent ( approximately - 50%) 4 years after transplantation. Multivariate analysis revealed that APN represents an independent risk factor associated with the decline of renal function (p = 0.034). Therefore, APN may be associated with an enduring decrease in renal graft function.