Administration of 1 ml of donor whole blood 7 d before renal transplantation produces long-term (greater than 100 d) graft survival in the DA (RT1a) into PVG (RT1c) rat strain combination. Using this model, the pattern and phenotype of infiltrating leukocytes were examined in rejecting and enhanced renal allografts, at days 1, 3, 5, and 7 after transplantation, by immunohistologic techniques. Paradoxically, enhanced grafts showed a more rapid and substantial leukocyte infiltrate, the phenotype of which was similar to that in rejecting grafts except for a reduced number of MRC OX-8+ cells and MRC OX-39+ cells. Graft infiltrating cells and splenocytes from transfused animals showed similar, although modest, levels of both nonspecific cytotoxicity and alloantigen-specific cytotoxicity. Immunohistologic analysis of MHC antigen distribution within the allograft revealed, unexpectedly, that enhanced grafts underwent an accelerated and extensive induction of both donor class I and class II MHC antigens. These findings were confirmed by allospecific quantitative absorption analysis, which showed severalfold increases in class I and class II MHC antigens by day 3 in enhanced grafts but not until day 5 in rejecting grafts. An additional observation was the more rapid disappearance of donor interstitial cells from enhanced grafts. These findings emphasize the overwhelming suppressive effect induced by an organ allograft after preoperative blood transfusion despite the associated induction of large numbers of potential effector cells and increased target antigen density within the graft.