ABSTRACT: Tolerance requires active mechanisms. How immunosuppressors affects tolerance is poorly understood. METHODS: RA (RT1(p))/PVG (RT1(c)) rats were used as donor/recipient. Intestinal and heart transplant model were selected as highly and poorly immunogenic organs. Studied groups were 1, rejecting control; 2, received peritransplant steroids; 3, donor-specific blood transfusion (DSBT); 4, DSBT plus peritransplant steroids; and 5, DSBT+periDSBT Ste. RESULTS: Intestinal transplant recipients in group 1 died on posttransplant day (d) 18. In group 2, steroids did not change survival (17 days, P >.05 versus group 1). With DSBT (group 3), all rats survived >75 days, whereas with steroids those in group 4 survived 59 days (P >.05 vs group 3) and group 5 survived 51 days (P <.05 versus group 3). Survivors in group 2 were tolerant as evidenced by acceptance of secondary donor-specific (not third-party) graft. However, 100% and 33% of donor-specific secondary grafts were rejected in groups 4 and 5 (P <.05 and P >.05 versus group 3). In heart transplants, steroid treatment had no effect on graft survival (group 1 9 days; group 2 9 days; P >.05). DSBT (group 3) induced 100% tolerance (primary: >100 days, secondary: 100%). Unlike in intestinal transplantation, adjunction peritransplant steroids (group 4) allowed 100% of primary and 83% of secondary graft acceptance (P >.05 versus group 3). In group 5, (DSBT+periDSBT steroids) acceptance of primary and secondary grafts tended to be reduced (primary: 77 days; P >.05 versus group 3; secondary: 67%, P >.05 versus group 3). CONCLUSION: Steroid induction did not prolong graft survival after either intestinal or heart transplant. Adjunction of steroids to a DSBT tolerogenic regimen caused rejection of primary and secondary grafts, particularly after intestinal transplantation. Routine use of steroids in the clinics must be reconsidered, particularly when immunogenic organs are transplanted and when immunomodulation is applied.