Data collected prospectively on 3811 renal transplantations performed between June 1977 and July 1982 by the 42 member institutions of the South-Eastern Organ Procurement Foundation were analyzed to determine the influence of donor-recipient HLA-A and HLA-B matching on patient and graft outcome. Well-matched recipients were more likely to have received kidneys from outside their own centers, were more highly presensitized, included fewer blacks, and were more likely to have lost an earlier graft. Multivariate Cox regression analysis that included these and six other potential confounding variables revealed a significant association (P less than 0.001) between good HLA-A and B matching and increased graft survival. The difference in mean (+/- S.E.) actuarial graft survival between recipients worst matched and best matched for HLA-A and B antigens increased with time: 55 +/- 2 per cent as compared with 64 +/- 4 per cent at six months and 18 +/- 4 per cent as compared with 44 +/- 7 per cent at four years. Poor HLA matching of donor with recipient provided the greatest relative risk (2.16) of irreversible graft rejection of all the variables examined. Among patients with functioning grafts, well-matched recipients had lower serum creatinine levels and received significantly smaller amounts of glucocorticoids. Our findings indicate that good HLA-A and B matching is highly dependent on a system for sharing organs among institutions, and results in decreased graft rejection, better long-term graft function, and less need for post-transplantation immunosuppression.