End-stage renal disease is associated with chronic stress that in turn may result in endocrine changes, affect cognitive and physical capacities and increase the risk for cardiovascular events. Objective of this study was to evaluate and characterize possible stress parameters and compare cognitive function in those patients. Physiological and biochemical stress parameters as well as cognitive function were assessed in 17 hemodialysis and 18 renal transplant patients and the both groups compared. Serum cortisol and Interleukin-6 levels were elevated in both groups but showed no significant difference. Cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein levels were significantly higher in patients following renal transplantation. While heart rate variability was comparable in both groups, most cognitive tests showed better results in renal transplant patients. We showed that: (1) cognitive function may improve following renal transplantation; (2) standard biochemical stress parameters are not useful to discriminate stress in patients with chronic kidney disease; and (3) heart rate variability is unaltered in this setting. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.