Kidney transplantation offers longer survival, less morbidity and lower costs than dialysis. It is also believed to improve quality of life. The aim of this study was to compare prospectively the perceived health status (PHS) of dialyzed patients on a waiting list with kidney transplant recipients after transplantation, matched for age, gender and comorbidity. The sample consisted of 93 dialyzed patients on a waiting list for deceased-donor kidney transplantation and 87 incident transplant recipients. A total of 62 dialyzed patients were matched for age, gender and comorbidity with 62 transplant recipients. PHS was measured using the SF-36 questionnaire. Data from baseline and after 12 months were compared between the groups. Patients on dialysis had worse physical (49 +/- 21) and mental (59 +/- 18) PHS than transplant recipients (56 +/- 21 and 64 +/- 18, p <0.05), but when matched pairs were compared, no differences in PHS were found. After 12 months, PHS did not change significantly in either group. The PHS of patients after kidney transplantation is better than that of those on dialysis. However, this fact is significantly influenced by the selection procedure, as only some dialyzed patients are put onto the waiting list while others were actually transplanted. The differences disappear with matching.