Liver allograft rejection is usually divided into acute (cellular) rejection and chronic (ductopenic) rejection. Most cases of acute rejection occur within four weeks of transplantation. There is a paucity of published literature on late acute rejection (LAR) in liver allografts and little is known about factors affecting its occurrence and outcome. To study the predisposing factors, clinical presentation, and prognosis of LAR, data prospectively collected on consecutive adult patients who underwent liver transplantation between 1982 and 1994, were analyzed. LAR was defined as histologically confirmed acute cellular rejection occurring 30 or more days after liver transplantation. Of the 717 patients, 59 (7.5%) had 71 episodes of LAR. Fifty-seven episodes were seen during the first year after transplantation, the remaining occurring between 1 and 6 years. Age, sex, pretransplant diagnosis, donor match of HLA, and blood groups was not associated with risk of LAR. Twenty-seven (38%) episodes were preceded by subtherapeutic blood levels of cyclosporine/FK506 (< 100 ng/ml and < 5 ng/ml, respectively) while an additional 6 (8%) had marginally low blood levels (< 150 ng/ml and < 10 ng/ml, respectively). Treatment with high-dose prednisolone resulted in complete resolution of rejection in 36 (51%) episodes, partial response in 21, and no response in 14 patients. Sixteen patients (27%) developed chronic rejection and graft loss. Development of chronic rejection was not affected by age or sex of the patient, timing of LAR, or histological severity of AR. Delayed response to therapy during an earlier episode of AR, and histological findings of centrilobular necrosis or bile duct loss at the time of diagnosis of LAR were associated with high risk of progression to chronic rejection and graft loss.