The pathophysiology of ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) injury is complex, and current knowledge of I/R injury in humans is incomplete. In the present study, human living-donor kidney transplantation was used as a highly reproducible model to systematically study various processes potentially involved in early I/R injury. Unique, direct measurements of arteriovenous concentration differences over the kidney revealed massive release of interleukin (IL)-6 in the first 30 minutes of graft reperfusion and a modest release of IL-8. Among the assessed markers of oxidative and nitrosative stress, only 15(S)-8-iso-PGF(2alpha) was released. When assessing cell activation, release of prothrombin factor 1 + 2 indicated thrombocyte activation, whereas there was no release of markers for endothelial activation or neutrophil activation. Common complement activation complex sC5b-9 was not released into the bloodstream, but was released into urine rapidly after reperfusion. To investigate whether IL-6 plays a modulating role in I/R injury, a mouse experiment of renal I/R injury was performed. Neutralizing anti-IL-6 antibody treatment considerably worsened kidney function. In conclusion, this study shows that renal I/R in humans is dominated by local IL-6 release. Neutralization of IL-6 in mice resulted in a significant aggravation of renal I/R injury.