Delayed graft function (DGF) is commonly considered a risk factor for acute rejection, although this finding has not been uniformly observed across all studies. The link between DGF and acute rejection may have changed over time due to advances in immunosuppression and medical management. Here we conducted a cohort study of 645 patients over 12 years to evaluate the association of DGF and biopsy-proven acute rejection (BPAR) in a modern cohort of kidney transplant recipients. DGF was defined as the need for at least one dialysis session in the first week after kidney transplantation. The 1-, 3-, and 5-year cumulative probabilities of BPAR were 16.0, 21.8, and 22.6% in the DGF group, significantly different from the 10.1, 12.4, and 15.7% in the non-DGF group. In multivariable Cox proportional hazards model, the adjusted relative hazard for BPAR in DGF (vs. no DGF) was 1.55 (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.03, 2.32). This association was generally robust to different definitions of DGF. The relative hazard was also similarly elevated for T-cell- or antibody-mediated BPAR (1.52 (0.92, 2.51) and 1.54 (0.85, 2.77), respectively). Finally, the association was consistent across clinically relevant subgroups. Thus DGF remains an important risk factor for BPAR in a contemporary cohort of kidney transplant recipients. Interventions to reduce the risk of DGF and/or its aftereffects remain of paramount importance to improve kidney transplant outcomes.