Primary nonfunction (PNF) is seen very frequently after xenogeneic transplantation of islets of Langerhans. In a pig-to-rat model we recently observed that no PNF occurs when the islets are kept in culture at 37 degreesC fur 1-2 weeks prior to transplantation. In order to investigate the rejection mechanisms in a preclinical model, we transplanted cultured porcine islets under the capsule of both kidneys in four cynomolgous monkeys. Islets were isolated from adult sows by means of digestion with Liberase in University of Wisconsin solution (UWS). The digest was purified by a density gradient of OptiPrep in UWS. Highly purified (>95%) islets were cultured 1-2 weeks in RPMI. All monkeys showed significant titers of preformed anti-pig antibodies. The immunosuppression of the monkeys consisted of cyclophosphamide (Cy) (2 days), cyclosporin A (CsA), and prednisolone. Anticipating a fast rejection we carried out nephrectomies at different time points within 2 weeks after transplantation. Following unilateral nephrectomy, well-preserved islets with no signs of rejection were observed between 3 and 7 days posttransplant. Later, between days ii and 15 posttransplant, histology in the first three animals demonstrated no islets. In the fourth monkey histology on day ii showed islets with excellent morphology and some small focal infiltrates. The highest CsA blood levels (around 1000 ng/ml) were found in animals with the best graft survival. We conclude that cultured porcine islets can be grafted without hyperacute rejection in monkeys with preformed anti-pig antibodies. In the presence of high levels of CsA only marginal signs of a cellular immune response were observed 11 days after transplantation.