Despite the use of recombinant erythropoietin, anemia remains a significant problem for patients with end-stage renal disease, in part related to chronic dialysis-related blood loss and resultant iron deficiency. Because oral iron preparations have been relatively ineffective and poorly tolerated in this population, intravenous (IV) iron dextran has been widely prescribed, despite a finite risk for adverse effects associated with its use. We analyzed data from Fresenius Medical Care North America (FMCNA) clinical variance reports to determine the incidence of suspected iron dextran-related adverse drug events (ADEs) and associated patient characteristics, dialysis practice patterns, and outcomes. We used a case-cohort study design, comparing individuals who experienced suspected ADEs with the overall FMCNA population. Among 841,252 IV iron dextran administrations from October 1998 through March 1999, there were 165 reported suspected ADEs, corresponding to an overall rate of 0.000196%, or approximately 20 per 100,000 doses. Forty-three patients (26%) required an independent emergency department evaluation, 18 patients (11%) required hospitalization, and 1 patient (0.6%) died. Dyspnea (43%), hypotension (23%), and neurological symptoms (23%) were the most common major ADEs; nausea (34%), vomiting (23%), flushing (27%), and pruritus (25%) were the most common other ADEs. ADEs were 8.1-fold more common among patients administered Dexferrum (American Regent Laboratories, Inc, Shirley, NY) compared with those administered InFed (Watson Pharmaceuticals, Phoenix, AZ). In summary, serious adverse reactions to IV iron dextran are rare in clinical practice. The risk appears to depend on the specific formulation of IV iron dextran. Otherwise, iron dextran-related ADEs are difficult to predict.