Organ shortage has driven many transplant centers to extend their criteria for organ acceptance. Graft allocation policies have been modified accordingly. This report focuses on the impact of applying the so-called rescue allocation (RA) strategy for liver transplantation (LT) in a single center within the Eurotransplant (ET) area. Liver grafts are considered for RA when the regular organ allocation is declined by at least three centers or is averted because of donor instability/unfavorable logistical reasons, thus entering a competitive or a single-recipient rescue organ offer procedure, respectively. The accepting center has the advantage to select a recipient from its own waiting list for these RA grafts. Among 253 livers accepted at the University of Heidelberg between January 2004 and December 2006, we transplanted 85 (34%) rescue-allocated livers. The indications for LT were hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC, 43%), chronic liver disease (55%), and acute liver failure (2%). Median cold ischemia time for RA grafts was 10 h (range: 4-17). The MELD score (mean +/- SD) was 13 +/- 7 (range: 6-40) and was 12 +/- 7 for recipients with HCC. Three (3.5%) primary non-functions (PNF) occurred after transplantation of RA livers. One-year patient and graft survival were 84% and 75%, respectively. A comparison between the recipients of RA livers and regularly allocated livers revealed no significant difference regarding initial poor function (IPF), PNF, and surgical complications. Furthermore, a median follow-up of 16 months revealed no significant difference regarding patient and graft survival between the two groups. The use of RA organs has increased the donor pool and transplantation dynamics with satisfying results. The unique possibility to match livers with recipients, which is left to the discretion of accepting center, should be judged according to the center's experience to decrease the waiting times for a timely rescue of organs/recipients while avoiding futile transplantations.