A porcine pancreatic transplantation model was used to investigate possible protease activation in the pancreatic graft during preservation. After perfusion with Perfadex and cold ischemia for 24 h, but prior to reperfusion, activated carboxypeptidase B was demonstrated in tissue samples from the graft parenchyma with a Western blot technique, indicating that graft pancreatitis may already be initiated during the preservation phase. A higher degree of carboxypeptidase B activation was observed in grafts perfused at a pressure of 130 cm H2O than after perfusion at 70 cm H2O. During reperfusion, the fraction of activated carboxypeptidase B gradually declined but was still detectable after 2 h. One group of pigs received aprotinin intravenously during reperfusion, but the protease inhibitor did not influence the degree of carboxypeptidase B activation in the biopsy specimen. Immunoblotting against cationic trypsinogen/trypsin was also performed. When activated trypsin was detectable, it never represented more than a few percent of the total amount of uncomplexed immunoreactive trypsinogen/trypsin.