Renal recipients need to acquire significant amount of knowledge for their life post-transplantation. More knowledge on kidney recipients’ experiences after transplantation with regard to the patient education provided is needed. Sixteen renal recipients were interviewed 4–6 weeks post-transplantation about content and methods in the patient education programme. Data were analysed in the hermeneutic tradition. The patients experienced barriers towards learning in the early post-operative phase. Kidney transplantation was expressed as a ‘turning point in life’, causing learning difficulties because of both physical and mental stress. Survival knowledge was the label for topics concerning medication and rejection as they were experienced as essential for life. Situational knowledge, that is, knowledge related to recipients’ individual life situations, requires further details in the main topics provided. The difference between knowing and practising what was taught was experienced as troublesome. The recipients expressed that a supportive learning atmosphere characterized by patience, respect, continuity and active participation was essential. This study revealed new knowledge about renal recipients’ need for individual application of the educational content, as well as cognitive difficulties, and other factors impacting on learning in the early post-operative phase. The patients’ perspective is an important and useful aid in creating effective interventions in this field.