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Socioeconomic variables including low income and noncompliance impact negatively upon long-term renal allograft survival, especially in African Americans. We sought to determine whether other socioeconomic variables contributed to noncompliance and allograft survival.A detailed history of socioeconomic variables was made at the time of renal transplant evaluation in 450 consecutive candidates, 128 of whom (89 African American, 39 Caucasian) have thus far undergone transplantation. Variables evaluated included household income, zip code income, insurance coverage, years of education, literacy, marital status, pretransplantation compliance, and history of substance abuse as well as the usual pre- and posttransplantation demographics.Immunologic graft loss occurred primarily in young African Americans with income below the federal poverty level, whereas nonimmunologic graft loss was distributed across racial, income, and other socioeconomic variables. Immunologic graft loss was also associated with a greater number of HLA mismatches, lower levels of education, and noncompliance with transplant medications and follow-up visits. Recipients with gross illiteracy, however, had excellent graft survival. Pretransplantation substance abuse, but not pretransplantation compliance, was predictive of posttransplantation noncompliance. By multivariate analysis, posttransplantation compliance emerged as the single most important factor predictive of graft survival.Immunologic graft loss in our population is related to noncompliance with transplant medications, which occurred primarily in recipients with a pretransplantation history of substance abuse and is not related to an inability to pay for medications at the time of graft loss. A change in criteria for acceptance of transplant candidates with a prior history of substance abuse might significantly improve graft survival in this patient population.