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Waiting time on dialysis has been shown to be associated with worse outcomes after living and cadaveric transplantation. To validate and quantify end-stage renal disease (ESRD) time as an independent risk factor for kidney transplantation, we compared the outcome of paired donor kidneys, destined to patients who had ESRD more than 2 years compared to patients who had ESRD less than 6 months.We analyzed data available from the U.S. Renal Data System database between 1988 and 1998 by Kaplan-Meier estimates and Cox proportional hazards models to quantify the effect of ESRD time on paired cadaveric kidneys and on all cadaveric kidneys compared to living-donated kidneys.Five- and 10-year unadjusted graft survival rates were significantly worse in paired kidney recipients who had undergone more than 24 months of dialysis (58% and 29%, respectively) compared to paired kidney recipients who had undergone less than 6 months of dialysis (78% and 63%, respectively;P <0.001 each). Ten-year overall adjusted graft survival for cadaveric transplants was 69% for preemptive transplants versus 39% for transplants after 24 months on dialysis. For living transplants, 10-year overall adjusted graft survival was 75% for preemptive transplants versus 49% for transplants after 24 month on dialysis.ESRD time is arguably the strongest independent modifiable risk factor for renal transplant outcomes. Part of the advantage of living-donor versus cadaveric-donor transplantation may be explained by waiting time. This effect is dominant enough that a cadaveric renal transplant recipient with an ESRD time less than 6 months has the equivalent graft survival of living donor transplant recipients who wait on dialysis for more than 2 years.