Ischemia/reperfusion injury (IRI) has a major impact on short- and long-term renal allograft survival by increasing graft immunogenicity. Donor preconditioning by inducing heme oxygenase 1 (HO-1) has been proven to exert cytoprotective and antiinflammatory effects on the graft, thus resulting in reduced graft immunogenicity. The study analyzed the effects and mechanisms of HO-1-mediated cytoprotection in rat kidney transplants exposed to cold preservation. We studied the differential gene-expression patterns of allografts after either short or long cold ischemia using a customized cDNA microarray. Prolonged cold ischemia led, 12 h after engraftment, to enhanced levels of adhesion molecules, heat-shock proteins, chemokines (CXCL10), and a remarkable upregulation of immunoproteasomes. Next we addressed the question whether induction of HO-1 or its byproduct carbon monoxide (CO) in organ donors targets these candidate markers related to enhanced immunogenicity. Induction of HO-1 or CO in organ donors 24 h before organ harvesting resulted in reduced mRNA levels of immunoproteasomes, MHC class II expression, and co-stimulatory molecules in the recipient's spleen, suggesting diminished migration and activation of donor dendritic cells. This observation suggests that HO-1/CO induction protects marginal allografts by inhibiting the immunogenicity of donor-derived dendritic cells.