Post-transplant monitoring of cellular immunity might be useful in predicting long-term outcomes of kidney transplant recipients. We used an enzyme linked immunoabsorbent spot (ELISPOT) assay to serially measure the frequency of peripheral blood lymphocytes producing interferon-gamma in response to stimulator cells from donors or third parties in 55 primary kidney transplant recipients. Mean frequencies measured during the first 6 months after transplantation correlated significantly with the serum creatinine concentration at both 6 and 12 months following transplantation. The mean frequencies were higher in patients with acute rejection than in those without acute rejection. Multiple regression analyses indicated that the correlations between the early ELISPOT measurements of interferon-gamma and serum creatinine were independent of acute rejection, delayed graft function, or the presence of panel reactive antibodies before transplantation. Patients with low mean frequencies of interferon-producing cells in the early post-transplant period were generally free from acute rejection and exhibited excellent renal function at 6 and 12 months post-transplant. In conclusion, using the ELISPOT assay, we show an independent correlation between early cellular alloreactivity and long-term renal function. Increased levels of early alloreactivity measured with this assay may serve as a surrogate for chronic allograft dysfunction.