Hypertonic and hyperoncotic solutions are generally used as acute treatment for symptomatic hypotension during dialysis. Administration of hydroxyethylstarch (HES) was recently shown to be an effective substitution fluid in preserving blood volume (BV) and systolic BP (SBP) in a group of stable dialysis patients during dialysis. In this study, in nine cardiac-compromised dialysis patients with frequent symptomatic hypotensive episodes, the efficacy of three fluids (hypertonic saline [3%], albumin [20%], and HES [10%]) was assessed during three treatment sessions with combined ultrafiltration and hemodialysis, which only differed in the type of fluid administered intravenously. Changes in SBP and relative BV were compared. Fluids were given when SBP was less than 100 mmHg or when the decrease in SBP was more than 25 mmHg versus the start of the treatment. The ultrafiltration was continued at the same rate. When comparing SBP at the end of the dialysis session (t = end) with that at the time of infusion (t = iv), SBP decreased with saline, increased with albumin, and increased significantly with HES. The change in SBP in t = end versus t = iv was significantly greater when using saline compared with HES, and tended to decrease more when using saline compared with albumin (P = 0.09). Between albumin and HES there were no significant differences. BV decreased significantly (t = end) versus baseline (t = 0) during ultrafiltration and hemodialysis in all three treatment sessions. The decrease was significantly higher when using saline compared with albumin and saline compared with HES. Between albumin and HES there were no significant differences. When the values at t = end were compared with those at t = iv, BV decreased, although not significantly, with saline and albumin, but remained unchanged with HES. It is concluded that HES is an effective fluid in maintaining SBP and preserving BV in hypotensive-prone dialysis patients, comparable to albumin but superior to hypertonic saline.