BACKGROUND: Renal transplantation is frequently considered superior to other renal replacement therapy in terms of survival and quality-of-life outcome. In this study, it was examined whether physicians and nurses have accurate perceptions of health status after renal transplantation (RTX) and whether renal transplant candidates have realistic expectations about posttransplant quality of life. METHODS: A comparative descriptive design was used for the comparison of physicians' and nurses' perceived and patients' expected and actual health status after RTX. Health status perceptions were measured by means of the EQ-5D self-report questionnaire. RTX candidates (n=107) were followed longitudinally from November 1999 until July 2001. Transplant patients (n=29) were surveyed 14 days and 4, 8, and 12 months after discharge from hospital. All physicians and nurses (n=123) had regular contact with dialysis or RTX patients. RESULTS: Physicians' and nurses' perceptions of health status after RTX were significantly lower than patients' expectations. Transplant nurses' and physicians' valuations were closer to patients' actual health status after transplantation than valuations of nurses on the dialysis or nephrology ward or at the outpatient clinic. CONCLUSIONS: RTX candidates frequently have higher expectations about their quality of life after transplantation than physicians and nurses who have regular contact with renal transplant patients. Physicians' and nurses' perceptions are closer to the actual health state after transplantation than patients' expectations. Thus, physicians and nurses are a reliable source of information for patients about the health state they can expect after transplantation.