We conducted a prospective study to gauge the frequency and degree of sensitization by transfusion and/or pregnancy in 797 candidates for first renal transplants. Sensitization was proportional to the number of blood transfusions. Multiple transfusions or a history of pregnancy without transfusions had similar effects on sensitization. The combination of transfusion and prior pregnancy resulted in sensitization of 1/3 of the candidates. Patients who were not sensitized and were accepted for 1-haplotype living-related donor grafts or first-cadaver donor grafts were transfused to receive a total of 5 units of packed red blood cells. Parous patients had an undue rate of antibody formation and alternate means of selecting and managing parous women are described. Nonparous candidates had a low rate of sensitization (8%) that did not prove an impediment to obtaining a transplant. Only 2% of prospective LRD graft recipients developed antibody against their intended donor. Transplant patients were generally managed with azathioprine and prednisone. One-haplotype LRD graft survival of protocol patients was 93.7% one year posttransplant, and 82.1% at 5 years. One-year CD graft survival was 77%. There was no reduction in graft survival when the interval between transfusion and transplantation exceeded one year. Random donor transfusion is effective in improving renal graft survival. Some recent multiinstitutional reports indicate a reduction or absence of the transfusion effect with current immunosuppression. Discarding blood transfusion as a preparation for transplantation may be ill-advised pending a prospective study.