The effect of state legislation and federal policies supporting living donors on living kidney donation rates in the United States is unknown. We studied living kidney donation rates from 1988 to 2006, and we assessed changes in donation before and after the enactment of state legislation and the launch of federal initiatives supporting donors. During the study, 27 states enacted legislation. Among states enacting legislation, there was no statistically significant difference in the average rate of increase in overall living kidney donations after compared to before state legislation enactment (annual increase in donations per 1 000 000 population [95% confidence interval] 2.39 [1.94–2.84] compared to 1.68 [0.89–2.47] respectively, p > 0.05). Among states not enacting legislation, there was a statistically significantly greater annual increase in overall donation rates from 1997 to 2002 compared to before 1997 when federal initiatives commenced, but there was no growth in annual rates after 2002. State and federal legislation were associated with increases in living-unrelated donation. These findings suggest that although existing public policies were not associated with improvements in the majority of donations from living-related donors, they may have had a selective effect on barriers to living-unrelated kidney donation.