Data from this retrospective study indicate that a positive two-color T and/or B cell flow cytometric crossmatch (FCXM) is predictive of early renal allograft loss (less than 2 months) in cadaveric kidney donor recipients who had a negative crossmatch by the antihuman globulin complement-dependent cytotoxicity technique. Among 90 cadaveric kidney donor recipients (67 primary, 23 regrafts), 14 (8 primary, 6 regrafts) lost their renal allografts within 2 months, and 10 of the 14 were FCXM positive and HLA sensitized. The remaining 76 allografts survived beyond 2 months, 12 of which were FCXM-positive. Thus, the FCXM sensitivity rate for detecting early graft loss was 71%, and the specificity rate was 84%. Cadaveric graft-loss rates at 2 months were 33% for primary and 60% for FCXM-positive regrafts in contrast to 7% for primary and 0% for FCXM-negative regrafts. The difference in early graft loss between FCXM-positive and FCXM-negative recipients was statistically significant (P less than 0.0001). Subset analyses of FCXM-positive graft recipients indicate: (1) previous early graft loss contraindicates transplantation of an FXCM-positive regraft (P = 0.03); and (2) panel reactive antibody (PRA) less than or equal to 10% at crossmatch is not associated with early graft loss (P = 0.04). There was no significant difference in 1-year graft survival between primary and regrafts in either FCXM-negative recipients (85% vs. 77%, respectively) or FCXM-positive recipients (67% vs. 40%). All 12 of the FCXM-positive primary and regrafts that survived 2 months continued to function at 2 years. Stepwise logistic regression analysis of 5 independent predictor variables (FCXM status, gender, primary vs. regraft status, PRA level, and HLA mismatched antigens) indicated that the FCXM test was the best predictor of early graft loss. When FCXM results of the 90 cadaveric graft recipients were ranked in three groups, an FCXM channel shift of 29 or greater (third tertile) on a 1024 channel log scale was associated with a 7.0-fold (95% confidence interval 1.9-25.5) increased risk of early graft failure when compared to the first two tertiles. These data indicate that the FCXM offers an additional approach for identifying sensitized patients at risk of early renal allograft loss.