There is a remarkable lack of reliable information about the determinants of risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) among patients with chronic renal failure. Indeed, such patients have often been deliberately excluded from randomised trials of treatments of CVD, perhaps because of concerns about drug safety. But the absolute risk of CVD among them may be large, so the potential absolute benefits of treatments may also be large, and may well exceed any increased hazards. Hence, as well as further investigation of the underlying mechanisms of cardiac disease, it would be helpful to have some large-scale randomised trials in a wide range of renal patients of interventions (such as cholesterol-lowering drugs, antihypertensives, aspirin, B-vitamins, and antioxidant vitamins) that are of proven or suspected benefit in other settings. If safe and effective treatments can be identified, and started early in the natural history of renal failure, the exceptionally high risk of CVD experienced by these patients could be decreased before and after end-stage renal failure has occurred.