Renal dysfunction evaluations after renal cold ischemia-reperfusion injury (CIRI) has important clinical significance for prolonging donor kidney preservation times and improving the survival rates of transplanted kidneys. Diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) has been accepted for microstructure change evaluations of renal function. In this study, a CIRI rat model was established and compared with a sham-operation group. The value of mono-exponential, bi-exponential, and kurtosis DWI models was compared to evaluate renal changes at different time points after CIRI surgery. The results showed that the bi-exponential and kurtosis models were more sensitive for detecting renal changes compared with the mono-exponential model.