Systematic studies of relationships among depression, sexual function, and martial discord in hemodialysis patients and their spouses arelacking; existing studies focus upon only one of these three topics, or deal with patient or spouse as individuals rather than as a couple. We studied 17 chronic, medically stable hemodialysis patients and their husbands or wives. Although couples rated their degree of marital discord as low, the investigators rated it as high, based on the number and type of specific problems reported by the couple. The couples' evaluation may not represent denial, as has been commonly assumed. Instead their evaluation may imply that the disease and its treatment overshadow marital problems, even though couples recognize and react to these problems. Couples showed a high prevalence of sexual problems--in terms of overall satisfaction, frequency of intercourse, and specific dysfunctional symptoms (difficulty becoming excited, maintaining excitement, or having orgasm). We found a strong relationship between severity of depression and severity of sexual dysfunction in patients, but not in their mates. No strong relationship existed between a patient's depression score and marital discord, although spouses showed a trend toward correlation between severity of depression and martial discord. Younger couples, especially, seem not to want intercourse when severe martial discord exists. Patients' depression scores were comparable to thoseof psychiatric patients, while spouses' depression scores resembled those of normals. While psychosocial phenomena such as marital discord, sexual dysfunction, and depression are clear, causal chains are not. Despite disadvantages inherent in using questionnaires, short, self-administered, easily scored instruments may elicit problems with sex, marriage, and mood which might otherwise be overlooked by caretaking personnel.