Background Health-related quality of life (HRQOL) is an important outcome measure in patients with end-stage renal disease. HRQOL is assumed to improve with kidney transplantation and also with nocturnal hemodialysis compared to conventional hemodialysis. However, there is no evidence regarding HRQOL to support the optimal treatment choice for patients on nocturnal hemodialysis who hesitate opting for transplantation. We therefore compared HRQOL between patients who were treated with kidney transplantation or nocturnal hemodialysis for one year. Methods We assessed HQROL using the Kidney Disease Quality of Life–Short Form questionnaire in a cross-sectional sample of patients who were treated with kidney transplantation (n = 41) or nocturnal hemodialysis (n = 31) for one year. All patients on nocturnal hemodialysis were transplantation candidates. Using linear regression, we compared HRQOL between kidney transplantation and nocturnal hemodialysis, and adjusted for age, sex, dialysis duration, cardiovascular disease, and presence of residual urine production. Results At one year follow-up, mean age of the study population was 54 ±13 years, and median dialysis duration was 3.2 (IQR 2.1–5.0) years. Kidney transplantation was associated with significantly higher HRQOL on the domain “effects” compared to nocturnal hemodialysis (adjusted difference 12.0 points, 95% CI 3.9; 20.1). There were potentially clinically relevant differences between kidney transplantation and nocturnal hemodialysis on the domains “burden” (adjusted difference 11.1 points, 95% CI -2.6; 24.8), “social support” (adjusted difference 6.2, 95% CI -6.6; 19.1), and the physical composite score (adjusted difference 3.0, 95% CI -2.0; 8.1), but these were not significant. Conclusions After kidney transplantation, HRQOL is especially higher on the domain “effects of kidney disease” compared to nocturnal hemodialysis. This can be useful when counseling patients on nocturnal hemodialysis who may opt for transplantation.