Acute rejection of renal allografts is mediated by infiltrating alloreactive T cells. The goals of this study were to correlate T cell proliferation with rejection and to determine whether T cell proliferation in the absence of rejection would predict future rejection episodes. Toward this, kidney biopsies (n=100) were cultured in the presence of interleukin-2. Cultures were examined at 4, 24, and 48 hr for T cell proliferation. A strong correlation was observed between T cell proliferation at any time point and rejection. There was not a significant correlation between T cell proliferation in biopsies with no rejection and the occurrence of a rejection episode within 2 months. However, T cell proliferation after 4 hr was a better predictor of the occurrence of rejection within 2 months compared with observations after 24 and 48 hr. Therefore, a subgroup of patients with unremarkable biopsies but T cell proliferation may be at risk for rejection and warrant closer observation and possible tailoring of immunosuppression.