Granzyme B (GrB) and perforin are promising markers to predict acute rejection episodes of transplanted organs. Having recently reported that immunohistochemical expression of GrB/perforin correlates with histologically assessed acute cellular rejection (ACR) episodes in intestinal transplantation recipients, herein we have additionally explored the potential of real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assessment of GrB/perforin gene up-regulation in peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Both immunohistochemical evaluation of GrB/perforin expression and real-time PCR assessment of up-regulation, which was defined as a 2-fold increase with respect to "basal" levels during maintenance immunosuppressive protocols, were performed among a population of 23 intestinal transplant recipients under routine surveillance, in addition to histological analysis of ACR. The ACR scores showed direct relationships both with GrB/perforin immunohistochemistry (IHC) scores (P < .001) and with gene up-regulation by real-time PCR (P = .004). Furthermore, real-time PCR upregulation was associated with the IHC score (P < .001). A preliminary analysis of diagnostic accuracy-performed to gain information to plan future studies-indicated that when using histological assessment as the reference technique, our current definition of PCR up-regulation provided good specificity (84%) but insufficient sensitivity (44%) for a noninvasive prediction of ACR. The results of this pilot study suggested that real-time PCR analysis of GrB/perforin upregulation may help therapeutic decision making, and have the potential for detection of presymptomatic rejection. More extensive studies must investigate strategies to improve the sensitivity of the analyses of GrB/perforin up-regulation.