Lung transplantation is a potentially curative therapy for the end-stage pulmonary sequelae of sarcoidosis. We reviewed the course of five lung allograft recipients with underlying sarcoidosis (S) at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and compared them with a control group (C) of 44 contemporaneous transplant recipients with other respiratory diseases. Sarcoid granulomata have developed in the allografts of 4 S, although these lesions have not yet been demonstrated to result in clinically significant abnormalities. In comparison with C, sarcoidosis patients had significantly greater mean grades of acute rejection during the first 3 months after transplantation (2.1 +/- 0.3 versus 1.6 +/- 0.1, S and C, respectively, p < 0.042) and larger proportions of lung biopsies showing more than mild acute rejection (40 versus 18%, p < 0.012) and lymphocytic bronchitis (30 versus 13%, p = 0.02), as well as a greater percentage of polymorphonuclear leukocytes in BAL returns (34.9 +/- 5.4 versus 19.0 +/- 1.6, p < 0.01). The two groups did not differ, however, in frequency of obliterative bronchiolitis, survival, or pulmonary function. We conclude that lung transplant recipients with underlying sarcoidosis are very likely to develop recurrent disease in the allograft and have more severe acute rejection responses, especially in the first weeks after transplantation. Pulmonary transplantation appears to be an efficacious therapy for end-stage sarcoidosis, but the long-term sequelae of the increased acute rejection and recurrent sarcoidosis in the allograft remain to be determined.