To study nonadherence, and its relationship with depression and quality of life (QOL) in patients on a cadaveric renal transplantation waiting list (RTWL). In 86 RTWL patients (56 men/30 women), there were 49 nonadherent patients (age, 46.8 +/- 21.8 years) and 37 adherent patients (age, 42.8 +/- 12.1 years). Clinical nonadherence was defined as skipping or shortening dialysis sessions, interdialytic weight gain (IDWG) of > 5.7% body weight, a predialysis potassium level of > 6 mEq/l and a predialysis phosphate level of > 7.5 mg/dl. For each study subject, marital status, level of education duration of dialysis, prior renal transplantation, IDWG, predialysis blood urea nitrogen (BUN) value and creatinine, potassium, phosphate levels were recorded as were scores from the short form-36 and Beck depression inventory (BDI). A high IDWG (33.7% of the subjects) was the most common nonadherence pattern noted. Age, sex, marital status, duration of dialysis, prior transplantation, comorbid conditions the predialysis BUN values, the levels of creatinine, potassium, and phosphate were not significantly different between the two groups (P > 0.05). The level of education was higher in adherent group (P = 0.018). QOL and BDI scores were negatively correlated (P = 0.001, r = -0.561). Nonadherent patients had lower QOL (P = 0.04) and higher depression scores (P = 0.01) than did adherent patients. Of the depressed patients, 77.8% had a comorbid condition. Nonadherence was only associated with BDI scores (OR, 2.146; CI, 2.052-2.350; P = 0.002). In dialysis patients, close monitoring of adherence, early diagnosis of depression, and the treatment of disease may further enhance QOL during the waiting period for a cadaveric renal transplant.