In the Eurotransplant Senior Programme (ESP), kidneys from donors aged epsilon 65 years are preferentially allocated locally and transplanted into patients aged epsilon 65 years on dialysis. The purpose of this study was to analyse whether the results of transplantation in the ESP can be improved by preservation of organs by hypothermic machine perfusion (MP) compared with simple cold storage (CS). Overall, 85 deceased heart-beating donors epsilon 65 years of age were included in this analysis with follow-up until 1 year post-transplant. For each donor, one kidney was randomly assigned to preservation by CS and the contralateral kidney to MP from organ procurement until transplantation. Delayed graft function (DGF), primary non-function (PNF) and 1-year patient and graft survival rates were evaluated as primary and secondary endpoints. The median recipient age was 66 years in both groups and the median cold ischaemia time was 11 h for MP and 10.5 h for CS (P 0.69). The DGF rate was 29.4 for MP and 34.1 for CS (P 0.58). Only extended duration of cold ischaemia time was an independent risk factor for the development of DGF (odds ratio 1.2, P 0.0001). PNF was significantly reduced (3.5 MP versus 12.9 CS, P 0.02). The 1-year patient and graft survival rates were similar for MP and CS (94 versus 95 and 89 versus 81, P 0.05). The 1-year graft survival rate was significantly improved after MP in recipients who developed DGF (84 MP versus 48 CS, P 0.01). Continuous pulsatile hypothermic MP for kidneys from donors aged epsilon 65 years can reduce the rate of never-functioning kidneys and improve the 1-year graft survival rate of kidneys with DGF. In this small cohort, the known advantage of MP for the reduction of DGF could not be confirmed, possibly due to relatively short cold ischaemia times.