A large number of previous clinical studies have reported a delayed graft function for brain dead donors, when compared with living relatives or cadaveric organ transplantations. However, there is no accurate method for the quality evaluation of kidneys from brain-dead donors. In the present study, two-dimensional gel electrophoresis and MALDI-TOF MS-based comparative proteomic analysis were conducted to profile the differentially-expressed proteins between brain death and the control group renal tissues. A total of 40 age- and sex-matched rabbits were randomly divided into donation following brain death (DBD) and control groups. Following the induction of brain death via intracranial progressive pressure, the renal function and the morphological alterations were measured 2, 6 and 8 h afterwards. The differentially expressed proteins were detected from renal histological evidence at 6 h following brain death. Although 904±19 protein spots in control groups and 916±25 in DBD groups were identified in the two-dimensional gel electrophoresis, >2-fold alterations were identified by MALDI-TOF MS and searched by NCBI database. The authors successfully acquired five downregulated proteins, these were: Prohibitin (isoform CRA_b), beta-1,3-N-acetylgalactosaminyltransferase 1, Annexin A5, superoxide dismutase (mitochondrial) and cytochrome b-c1 complex subunit 1 (mitochondrial precursor). Conversely, the other five upregulated proteins were: PRP38 pre-mRNA processing factor 38 (yeast) domain containing A, calcineurin subunit B type 1, V-type proton ATPase subunit G 1, NADH dehydrogenase [ubiquinone] 1 beta subcomplex subunit 10 and peroxiredoxin-3 (mitochondrial). Immunohistochemical results revealed that the expressions of prohibitin (PHB) were gradually increased in a time-dependent manner. The results indicated that there were alterations in levels of several proteins in the kidneys of those with brain death, even if the primary function and the morphological changes were not obvious. PHB may therefore be a novel biomarker for primary quality evaluation of kidneys from brain-dead donors.