In a randomized, open-label, multicenter study, de novo renal transplant patients received no steroids (n = 112), steroids to day 7 (n = 115), or standard steroids (n = 109) with cyclosporine microemulsion (CsA-ME), enteric-coated mycophenolate sodium (EC-MPS) and basiliximab. The primary objective, to demonstrate noninferiority of 12-month GFR in the steroid-free or steroid-withdrawal groups versus standard steroids, was not met in the intent-to-treat population. However, investigational groups were not inferior to standard steroids in the observed-case analysis. Median 12-month GFR was not significantly different in the steroid-free or steroid-withdrawal groups (58.6 mL/min/1.73 m(2) and 59.1 mL/min/1.73 m(2)) versus standard steroids (60.8 mL/min/1.73 m(2)). The 12-month incidence of biopsy-proven acute rejection (BPAR), graft loss or death was 36.0% in the steroid-free group (p = 0.007 vs. standard steroids), 29.6% with steroid withdrawal (N.S.) and 19.3% with standard steroids. BPAR was significantly less frequent with standard steroids than either of the other two regimens. Reduced de novo use of antidiabetic and lipid-lowering medication, triglycerides and weight gain were observed in one or both steroid-minimization group versus standard steroids. For standard-risk renal transplant patients receiving CsA-ME, EC-MPS and basiliximab, steroid withdrawal by the end of week 1 achieves similar 1-year renal function to a standard-steroids regimen, and may be more desirable than complete steroid avoidance.