On December 31, 2001, 2486 patients with terminal renal failure received dialysis treatment in Croatia. Only one third of the patients are registered on the national waiting list for cadaveric kidney transplant. In most of the others, transplantation is impossible because of comorbidity. This is mainly due to the steadily growing age of the dialytic population and therefore a higher incidence of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Still, evaluation of the potential recipients of cadaveric kidney transplant, registered on the waiting list, often reveals contraindications for transplantation. The aim of this study was to determine the incidence and type of contraindications in transplant candidates, found during immediate preoperative evaluation. Analysis of these data should help in determining how contraindications can be early detected and prevented. Before registering onto the national waiting list transplant candidates need to be thoroughly investigated including detailed history, physical examination, routine diagnostic procedures and additional examinations, if needed, to exclude or evaluate the possibly existing contraindications for transplantation. During the period from January 1997 until June 2002, 145 potential recipients from the national waiting list were referred to the Rijeka University Hospital Center and evaluated for kidney transplantation. Eighty-eight patients underwent transplantation. Preoperative evaluation revealed contraindications for transplantation in 52 (35.9%) candidates. Twenty-two (15.2%) patients had a positive cross-match with donor lymphocytes, 6 (4.1%) patients refused transplantation, and in 24 (16.6%) patients serious comorbidity was the reason for not being accepted for transplantation and for their withdrawal from the national waiting list. Comorbidity was mainly due to cardiovascular disease (12 patients--8.3%) and infection (8 patients--5.5%). These data show a high incidence of contraindications found during the immediate preoperative evaluation of potential kidney recipients. It was the case in more than one third of patients. During the evaluation of potential candidates for kidney transplantation special attention should be addressed to the presence of cardiovascular morbidity and infection. Peripheral vascular occlusive disease, cardiac status and/or cerebrovascular disease should be evaluated. Measures used to treat or reduce the development of complications include an optimal control of blood pressure, serum phosphate, hyperparathyroidism, dyslipidemia, and renal anemia. The sites of infection must be treated and eradicated, because immunosuppressive treatment is a threat to the transplant recipient's life. The second most common cause of refusal of potential candidates was a positive cross-match with donor lymphocytes. Sensitization to human leukocyte antigens can be prevented by the avoiding of blood transfusions and use of erythopoietin in treating renal anemia. To minimize the morbidity and mortality, the potential kidney recipients should undergo rigorous selection and thorough evaluation before including them into the waiting list for kidney transplantation. Afterwards, regular examinations are obligatory to reveal contraindications, proceed to medical interventions and treat concomitant diseases in time, which can influence the patient's survival. In case that contraindications for transplantation arise, the patient must be temporarily or definitely removed from the waiting list.