Black recipients of cadaveric kidneys have been shown to have a lower rate of allograft survival than whites. Data were reviewed from 642 primary cadaveric transplants: results in 276 patients (163 white and 113 black) (group 1) who had received triple therapy (azathioprine-CsA-prednisone, 1985-87) were compared with those in 366 patients (180 white and 186 black) (group 2) receiving quadruple immunosuppression (MALG-azathioprine-CsA-prednisone, 1987-90). Blacks in group 2 had better patient (97% vs. 91%, P = 0.03) and graft (77% vs. 55%, P = 0.0002) survival at 1 year than in group 1. There was no difference in these parameters among whites in either group. Racial differences in graft survival noted in group 1 disappeared in group 2. While HLA BDR matching improved in group 2 patients (P = 0.0001), whites received better matched kidneys than blacks in both groups (P = 0.001). HLA matching was associated with improved graft survival only in white recipients of 4 BDR-matched kidneys. In group 1, more blacks than whites had at least one episode of acute rejection (76% vs. 57%, P = 0.001); blacks also lost more grafts to acute and chronic rejection. In group 2, there were no racial differences in the number of rejection episodes or immunologic graft losses. Of 14 potential variables examined by parametric analysis, only quadruple therapy significantly reduced risk of graft loss in blacks. Quadruple immunosuppression improved primary cadaveric renal allograft survival in black recipients, abrogating previously noted racial differences.