BACKGROUND & OBJECTIVES Living unrelated donor (LURD) renal transplantation has shown a rising trend over the last 5 yr at our center following the passing of The Transplantation of Human Organs Act by the Government of India in 1994. In this paper, the results of LURD and cadaver (CAD) donor renal transplantation are compared. We have also looked into factors that have a bearing on graft survival such as the extent of HLA mismatch (MM), infections, acute rejections (AR), donor age and sex. METHODS A total of 42 LURD and 25 CAD renal transplants performed between March 1994 and February 1999 has been included in the study. HLA typing, panel reactive antibody (PRA) screening and T and B cell cross match assay were performed by the complement dependent cytotoxicity (CDC) method for all patients. RESULTS The graft survival rates were generally higher in the LURD category as compared to the CAD group and were significant at 6 month period (90 vs 56%, P = 0.002). A follow up of the patients up to 60 months revealed a matching effect since the 3, 4 allele MM group had better survival rates as compared to the 5, 6 MM group. Twenty six of the 67 recipients (39%) experienced episodes of acute rejection (AR). Patients with 3, 4 MM had fewer such episodes than those with 5, 6 allele MM (P < 0.05). Of the 32 deaths, 20 were those with a functional kidney, of which 15 were caused by severe infections. INTERPRETATION & CONCLUSION Better HLA matching ensures fewer episodes of rejection and better long term graft survival in comparison to the poorly matched grafts. The graft survival for LURD recipients was appreciably higher than that of CAD recipients.