The aim of this study was to prospectively investigate the peak levels and kinetics of donor leucocyte chimerism in human recipients following liver transplantation. The peak levels of chimerism were observed within the first 48 hours following transplantation and ranged from 0.15% to 20% of total peripheral blood mononuclear cells. In all but one patient, who developed graft versus host disease, there was an early peak level of chimerism that declined over time such that donor leukocytes were only intermittently detectable after 3 to 4 weeks. In 8 patients who had no episodes of graft rejection, the peak level of donor leukocyte chimerism ranged from 1.3% to 20% (mean ± SEM; 5.5% ± 2.1%). In 3 patients who were treated for episodes of acute graft rejection during the first four postoperative weeks, the peak level of donor leukocyte chimerism ranged from 0.15% to 0.2% (0.18 ± 0.02, P = .012). The results demonstrate a marked variation in the total number of donor leukocytes detectable in the peripheral blood early after liver transplantation and also, that lower levels of chimerism may be associated with lower rates of initial graft acceptance and a higher incidence of acute rejection.