Peritonitis remains the most important factor in patient morbidity and technical failure associated with continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (CAPD). In vitro examination of bacterial infection of cultured human peritoneal mesothelial cells (HPMC) is an attractive approach to the study of peritonitis in CAPD, yet there are few reports on this subject. Previous studies have shown two limitations: (i) cell cultures of HPMC lasted for days only when incubated in culture medium and (ii) short-term studies of <30 min were done in HPMC when incubated with peritoneal dialysis fluid (PDF). Human peritoneal mesothelial cells, maintained in a conventional single chamber culture system with PDF alone, were unable to survive more than 40 min. The present study was designed to prolong the viability of HPMC cultured in PDF, with the object of using cells under different conditions, such as that of simulating CAPD. HPMC were cultured using plastic microtiter plates, where they were grown to confluence and growth was arrested. PDF containing different concentrations of NaHCO3and human serum albumin was added. Cell viability after exposure for up to 24 h was measured by trypan blue, Cell Death Detection ELISA and Annex-V flow cytometry. The data confirmed the 'toxic' effect of PDF, with cell viability being <40% after 2 h incubation in 4.25% glucose in PDF. However, the survival time of HPMC increased significantly in 4.25% glucose PDF at a physiological pH and even further after the addition of human albumin. These experimental conditions simulating CAPD may allow future in vitro studies of mesothelial physiology and peritonitis related to CAPD treatment.