Flow cytometry (FC) is increasingly being used as a crossmatch procedure in addition to the standard complement-dependent cytotoxicity (CDC) test. In fact, FC offers a number of advantages over CDC and has the potential to become the primary crossmatch technique for cadaveric donor renal transplantation. We evaluated this possibility in 230 patients cross-matched by both CDC and FC. The results showed that when the T cell crossmatch was negative by FC it was always negative by CDC, and that when the T cell results were positive by CDC (IgM antibodies excluded) they were also positive by FC. As expected, a number of tests were T cell-positive by FC but negative by CDC. A T cell CDC crossmatch was more likely to be positive when FC was positive for both T and B cells and when FC results were quantitatively higher. However, FC was unable to consistently predict a positive, dithiothreitol-resistant B cell CDC crossmatch. A policy to transplant patients with negative FC results (70% of the patients evaluated) and not to transplant sensitized patients with FC+ T cell results (10%) would allow us to make a final decision with only FC in 80% of the cases. Actual graft survival was similar for non-sensitized first-transplant candidates with positive (83%) or all patients with negative (86%) FC results. We conclude that FC is sufficient to make a final decision in most cases. Wider utilization will require improvements in the ability of FC to measure B cell antibodies and to quantitate antibodies to T cells.