To inform decision making regarding transplantation in patients ≥ 65 years, we quantified the early posttransplant risk of death by determining the time to equal risk and equal survival between transplant recipients and wait-listed dialysis patients in the United States between 1995 and 2007 (total n = 25 468). Survival was determined using separate multivariate nonproportional hazards analyses in low-, intermediate- and high-risk cardiovascular risk patients. Compared to wait-listed patients with similar cardiovascular risk, standard criteria (SCD) and expanded criteria (ECD) recipients had a higher risk of death in the perioperative and early-posttransplant period. In contrast, low and intermediate risk living donor (LD) recipients had an immediate survival advantage compared to similar risk wait-listed patients. In all risk groups, transplantation was associated with a long-term survival advantage compared to dialysis, but there were marked differences in time to equal risk of death, and time to equal survival by donor type. For example, survival in high-risk recipients of an LD, SCD and ECD transplant became equal to that in similar risk wait-listed patients 130, 368 and 521 days after transplantation. Early posttransplant mortality risk is eliminated in low- and intermediate-risk patients, and markedly reduced in high-risk patients with LD transplantation.