Native arteriovenous (AV) fistulae for hemodialysis vascular access are believed to be associated with fewer complications than synthetic polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) grafts. We conducted a study among patients in the Dialysis Morbidity and Mortality Study to compare risk factors for complications of AV fistulae and PTFE grafts in men and women and to examine the effect of age on vascular access complications. We analyzed data from 833 incident patients with end-stage renal disease who had a PTFE graft (n = 621) or AV fistula (n = 212) in use 1 month after starting hemodialysis therapy. Follow-up using inpatient and outpatient Medicare administrative data identified a 1.8-times greater risk for a subsequent vascular access procedure for PTFE grafts (0.71 procedures/access-year) than for AV fistulae (0.39 procedures/access-year). Men with grafts and women with grafts or fistulae had a greater risk for a first subsequent access procedure than did men with fistulae (0.79, 0.65, and 0.59 versus 0.33 procedures/access-year, respectively). After adjustment for age, race, presence of diabetes mellitus, and history of smoking, peripheral vascular disease, and cardiovascular disease, use of a PTFE graft compared with an AV fistula was associated with a greater risk for a first subsequent procedure in men (relative hazard, 2.2; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.6 to 2.9), but not in women (relative hazard, 1.0; 95% CI, 0.7 to 1.4). The excess risk associated with a PTFE graft compared with an AV fistula was limited to men in the lower three quartiles of age (ie, </=72 years). These data raise concern that the potential benefits of AV fistulae over PTFE grafts are not realized in women and older men. A better understanding of the determinants of successful access maturation and maintenance in these groups is needed.