BACKGROUND: Before tracheal transplantation can be considered as a method of reconstruction in patients with extensive circumferential tracheal defects, we must achieve a state of nontoxic, donor-specific tolerance so that the risks of such a transplant do not outweigh the benefits. OBJECTIVE: Our objective was to determine whether a single intraportal injection of modified donor alloantigen achieves donor-specific immunosup-pression for major histocompatibility complex-mismatched rat tracheal allografts. STUDY DESIGN: Buffalo (recipient) rats were pretreated with either a single portal-vein administration of ultraviolet B (UVB)-irradiated donor splenocytes (n = 4) or an intraportal inoculation of nonirradiated donor splenocytes (n = 4). Major histocompatibility complex-mismatched Lewis (donor) tracheal allograft segments were then grafted into treatment groups 7 days after donor-cell pretreatment. Tracheal rejection was assessed by histologic analysis, mucosal cilia motility, and in vitro immunologic assessment. RESULTS: The UVB-treated group demonstrated no acute or chronic rejection as well as complete functional recovery. In vitro immunologic assessment demonstrated a donor-specific hyporesponsiveness and donor allospecificity. Untreated animals and those receiving nonirradiated donor splenocytes showed acute rejection of their tracheal allografts. CONCLUSION: Recipient pretreatment with intraportally administered UVB-irradiated donor splenocytes prevents rejection of circumferential rat tracheal allograft segments by inducing a donor-specific immune hyporesponsiveness.