Complement activation in 73 renal transplant biopsies was investigated by indirect immunoperoxidase staining using MoAbs reactive with complement-split products. Intense deposition of complement fragments C4d and C3d in peritubular capillaries, indicating activation of the classical pathway, could be detected in the majority of transplanted kidneys with cell-mediated rejections. Abundant deposition of complement-split products was observed in 22 early biopsies from patients with high 'immunological risk' (i.e. previous, rejected transplants and/or circulating antibodies against HLA-antigens). Despite negative results in the crossmatch before transplantation and paucity of immunoglobulins in transplant biopsies, antibodies directed against endothelial cell antigens should be considered as a possible cause of classical complement activation.