We have generally encouraged living donation among our kidney recipients. However, an examination of our clinical practice revealed inconsistencies in the depth and content of information transmitted to kidney recipient families regarding living donation. We therefore initiated a structured education program, including an educational video, to ensure that all recipient families would receive a similar exposure to a standard block of information. After the program had been functioning for over a year, we compared the living donor (LD) volunteer rates between the 3-year period before (BEFORE) and the 18 months after (AFTER) initiation of the formal education program. There were 1,363 patients registered on our kidney transplantation waiting list during the 54-month study period (757 white [56%] and 580 black [43%]). We found that 33.4% of the kidney transplant candidates in the period BEFORE the LD education program had at least one potential LD tissue typed, compared with 39.4% in the period AFTER starting the program (P = 0.03). The increase in the proportion of patients with potential donors was greatest among the black (P < 0.05) and elderly (P < 0.01) registrants, which were the groups with the lowest volunteer rates before the program began. Among the registrants with at least one potential donor, the percentage of registrants who ultimately received an LD transplant was highly correlated with the number of donors (R = 0.98). The rate of LD kidney transplantation was significantly higher (P = 0.02) for the patients referred in the period AFTER initiation of the LD education program compared with the period BEFORE the program. The 1- and 3-year graft survival rates for the 170 LD transplants performed in these patients were 96.9% and 93.2%, respectively. These were significantly better than the corresponding 83.9% and 71.4% rates for the 341 kidney transplants from cadaver donors in these registrants (P < 0.001). Black recipients of LD transplants had graft survival rates comparable to whites; the 3-year graft survival rate for LD transplants was 93.9% in whites and 90.6% in blacks (P = NS). We conclude that living kidney donor volunteer rates can be improved by a formal family education program, especially for subgroups of patients with low volunteer rates. A substantial benefit is derived by black patients, who generally experience low graft survival rates with cadaver-donor kidneys. A local formal LD education program is a useful adjunct to national organ donation campaigns.