The urea reduction ratio (URR) and normalized treatment ratio (Kt/V) are related quantities that have become accepted measures of hemodialysis dose. Recent studies, however, have suggested that they combine two elements, both favorably associated with clinical outcome, as a single ratio. These elements, Kt and V, may offset each other, producing a complex quantity that does not reflect a true relationship between dialysis exposure and clinical outcome. This project explored and compared the associations of the URR and the ¿urea clearance x time¿ product (Kt) with mortality in a large sample of hemodialysis patients (37,108 patients) during 1998. Survival analyses using conventional techniques were the primary analytic tools. The relationship between URR and survival was U-shaped or J-shaped, with greater relative mortality at both extremes of the URR distribution than at its middle. Thus, identifying a threshold for adequate dialysis was not possible unless one considers also a threshold for overdialysis. Conversely, the association between Kt and outcome was much simpler, reflecting progressive improvement over the range of Kt evaluated here. These analyses suggest that such measures as URR and Kt/V are compound and complex, and that a simpler, more direct, measure, such as the Kt, should be considered to describe hemodialysis dose.