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Selection of patients for kidney transplantations is necessary due to the shortage of organs. The process has not been greatly studied. Twelve hypothetical cases were constructed, each with one or several relative contraindications, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, old age or a mental disorder. The cases were submitted to 40 nephrologists, chosen to represent the recruitment areas of the four Swedish transplant units. They were asked to declare whether the 'patient' was suitable for transplantation or not, and, independently, whether the patient would be referred to the transplant unit. The same cases were evaluated by 3-4 representatives of each transplant unit. The response rate was 100%. A median of 6 cases was considered suitable (range 3-11). The acceptance rate differed significantly between the four unit areas, from 4 cases (3-7) to 7 (4-11), p = 0.014. Nephrologists would accept fewer patients than staff from the transplant units, 5 (3-10) vs. 7 (3-11), p = 0.009. Most of the latter difference was compensated for by referral of borderline cases to the unit. Only 5 individual cases were equally judged by at least 75% of the respondents. Discrepancies in view were noted with respect to the significance of old or young age, the patient's determination and severe obesity.