Experimental studies have shown that administration of antilymphocyte serum combined with donor bone marrow cells can induce tolerance to allograft tissue. We have initially reported application of these protocols in clinical studies of cadaveric renal allograft recipients who were treated with MALG and donor-specific bone marrow cells. To evaluate the effectiveness of the donor marrow cells in the production of chimerism, a detection method based on 32P-incorporated PCR was established. The 32P PCR was utilized with primers specific for the HLA class II, VNTR (D17S5 and D1S111), and/or Y-chromosome genes to detect the presence of allogeneic chimerism in the recipients. Immediately posttransplant, 26.4% of marrow recipients demonstrated the presence of allogeneic chimerism prior to the marrow transfusion as did 18% in the untransfused controls. In transfused patients, chimerism was detected most frequently during the 1–3-month interval after marrow transfusion (65%), and then diminished to 50–56% at 3–12 months posttransfusion. In the control group the frequency of allogeneic chimerism was gradually decreased and was undetectable in the majority of the patients beyond 3 months posttransplant while marrow-transfused recipients were more likely to have chimeric cells detected consistently beyond 3 months. Rejection episodes were significantly effected by the presence of chimerism in the recipients. Of the transfused patients, 91.3% who demonstrated allogeneic chimerism were rejection-free as compared with 8.7% who experienced at least one rejection episode (P=0.01). While the presence of allogeneic chimerism in the control group was correlated with rejection-free graft survival, this difference did not reach statistical significance.