Total lymphoid irradiation by itself can produce sufficient immunosuppression to prolong the survival of a variety of organ allografts in experimental animals. The degree of prolongation is dose-dependent and is limited by the toxicity that occurs with higher doses. Total lymphoid irradiation is more effective before transplantation than after, but when used after transplantation can be combined with pharmacologic immunosuppression to achieve a positive effect. In some animal models, total lymphoid irradiation induces an environment in which fully allogeneic bone marrow will engraft and induce permanent chimerism in the recipients who are then tolerant to organ allografts from the donor strain. If total lymphoid irradiation is ever to have clinical applicability on a large scale, it would seem that it would have to be under circumstances in which tolerance can be induced. However, in some animal models graft-versus-host disease occurs following bone marrow transplantation, and methods to obviate its occurrence probably will be needed if this approach is to be applied clinically. In recent years, patient and graft survival rates in renal allograft recipients treated with conventional immunosuppression have improved considerably, and thus the impetus to utilize total lymphoid irradiation for its immunosuppressive effect alone is less compelling. For example, in our institution, the current one-year patient and graft survival rates in recipients of kidneys from cadaver donors are 91 and 84 per cent in those treated with cyclosporine and 94 and 80 per cent in those treated with conventional immunosuppression. Similar results might also be achieved by protocols that use total lymphoid irradiation as an immunosuppressant, but it will be difficult to improve over the current results with cyclosporine or conventional immunosuppression, at least for primary transplantation. The future of total lymphoid irradiation probably lies in devising protocols in which maintenance immunosuppression can be eliminated, or nearly eliminated, altogether. Such protocols are effective in rodents. Whether they can be applied to clinical transplantation remains to be seen.