purpose: to evaluate by impression cytology (ic) the corneal surface of live limbal tissue donor eyes for autograft or allograft limbal stem cell transplantation (lsct). methods: twenty limbal donors were enrolled (17 for autograft lsct and 3 for allograft). impression cytology was performed before transplantation of superior and inferior limbal grafts and after the third postoperative month. results: impression cytology analysis showed sheets of corneal epithelial cells and goblet cell absence beyond the edge of the keratectomy sites in all patients, suggesting that conjunctival invasion towards the center did not occur in any eye. partial conjunctivalization within 2 to 3 clock hours, confirmed by the presence of goblet cells, was limited to the keratectomy site in 10% of the cases. conclusion: a clear central corneal surface was demonstrated in all eyes following surgery leading to the conclusion that limbal donation was a safe procedure in this group of patients. a small percentage of eyes can have donor sites re-epithelized with conjunctival cells at the periphery of the cornea.