The Renal Exercise Demonstration Project was designed to test the effects of two different approaches to exercise programming on the levels of physical activity, physical functioning, and self-reported health status in hemodialysis patients. Two hundred eighty-six patients were recruited for participation. Intervention patients were given individually prescribed exercise for 8 weeks of independent home exercise, followed by 8 weeks of incenter cycling during dialysis. Physical performance testing was performed at baseline and after each intervention using gait speed, sit-to-stand test, and 6-minute walk. The Medical Outcomes Study Short Form 36-item (SF-36) questionnaire was used to assess self-reported health status. The intervention group showed increased participation in physical activity. There were significant differences between the intervention and nonintervention groups in change over time in normal and fast gait speed, sit-to-stand test scores, and the physical scales on the SF-36, including the physical component scale. The intervention group improved in these test results, whereas the nonintervention group either did not change or declined over the duration of the study. It is clear that improvements in physical functioning result from exercise counseling and encouragement in hemodialysis patients. Because self-reported physical functioning is highly predictive of outcomes in hemodialysis patients, more attention to patients' levels of physical activity is warranted.