Although quality-of-life assessment is an important complement to conventional clinical evaluation, there are limited opportunities for researchers in end-stage renal disease (ESRD) to examine evidence for a range of quality-of-life measures. To better understand how quality of life has been conceptualized, measured, and evaluated for ESRD, we conducted a structured literature review. Eligible articles were identified from a MEDLINE search, expert input, and review of references from eligible articles. A standardized instrument was created for article review and included type of measure, instrument development process, study sample characteristics, quality-of-life domains, and reliability and validity testing. From 436 citations, 78 articles were eligible for final review, and of those, 47 articles contained evidence of reliability or validity testing. Within this set, there were 113 uses of 53 different instruments: 82% were generic and 18% were disease specific. Only 32% defined quality of life. The most frequently assessed domains were depression (41%), social functioning (32%), positive affect (30%), and role functioning (27%). Testing was completed for test-retest reliability (20%), interrater reliability (13%), internal consistency (22%), content validity (24%), construct validity (41%), criterion validity (55%), and responsiveness (59%). Few articles measuring quality of life in ESRD defined quality-of-life domains or adequately described instrument development and testing. Generic measures, such as the Sickness Impact Profile, and disease-specific measures, such as the Kidney Disease Questionnaire, had been tested more thoroughly than others. Standardized reporting and more rigorous testing could help researchers make informed choices about instruments that would best serve their own and their patients' needs.