Paricalcitol was evaluated for the treatment of secondary hyperparathyroidism (SHPT) in a long-term, prospective, open-label study of 37 patients with end-stage renal failure resistant to intravenous calcitriol. All patients had an intact parathyroid hormone (iPTH) level of 600 pg/mL or greater before being converted from calcitriol to paricalcitol therapy. Paricalcitol therapy was initiated at a 1:4 calcitriol to paricalcitol dose conversion ratio for the initial 14 patients and a 1:3 dose ratio for the next 23 patients. Subsequent dosing was based on iPTH, calcium, and phosphorus determinations. All patients underwent hemodialysis three times weekly and received structured nutritional counseling. Mean iPTH level (baseline, 901 +/- 58 pg/mL) decreased rapidly during the initial 2 months and was 165 +/- 24 pg/mL at 16 months. Alkaline phosphatase levels decreased from 280 +/- 27 IU at baseline to 65 +/- 12 IU at 16 months. Mean calcium and phosphorus levels did not change significantly over the 16 months of paricalcitol therapy. The baseline mean calcium level of 9.4 +/- 0.2 mg/dL increased to 9.7 +/- 0.2 mg/dL (P = 0.86), and phosphorus level decreased from 6.1 +/- 0.2 to 5.8 +/- 0.2 mg/dL (P = 0.77). The greater paricalcitol doses afforded by the initial dose conversion ratio of 1:4 produced unacceptably rapid iPTH suppression and subsequent hypercalcemia. Mean doses of paricalcitol decreased six- to sevenfold throughout the course of therapy while maintaining acceptable iPTH suppression. Eight patients developed hypercalcemia, which successfully managed by dietary counseling, phosphate-binder adjustment, and paricalcitol dose reduction. Six patients developed hyperphosphatemia; 3 patients responded adequately to dietary manipulation and phosphate binders, but 3 patients had repeated episodes. Three patients did not respond adequately to paricalcitol therapy and required parathyroidectomy. In summary, paricalcitol was successful at controlling SHPT in patients resistant to calcitriol therapy with minimal impact on calcium and phosphorus homeostasis. The 1:3 initial dose conversion provided the smoothest iPTH control with only a single episode of hypercalcemia in patients treated with this initial dose. Doses of paricalcitol decreased over time.