Renal and extrarenal transplant data were collected for seven geographical regions for the period 1989-1996. In Western Europe and North America the number of kidney donors increased by 926 and 2743, respectively. The total number of transplants also increased in both regions by 3756 and 6936, respectively. Renal transplants accounted for approximately 60% of the total number of transplants and, although the number of renal transplants did not alter in Western Europe, the number rose by 3055 in North America. Outside of these regions the number of extrarenal transplants was 3-18% of the total. The number of living kidney donors in North America increased each year and was higher than the number recruited in Western Europe (3389 vs 943 in 1996). With the exception of Eastern Europe, where virtually no renal transplants were carried out using organs from living donors, the number of living kidney donors rose in other regions: for example, in Latin America, the proportion of living kidney donors rose from 29% in 1970-88 to 51% in 1995, and, in Asia, 90% of kidneys were donated by living donors. As the quality of cadaveric donor organs is often sub-optimal, the use of living donors is likely to increase in both Western Europe and North America, but is unlikely to become the most important source of organs in these regions.