The retention in the body of compounds, which normally are secreted into the urine results in a clinical picture, called the uremic syndrome. The retention compounds responsible for the uremic syndrome are called uremic toxins. Only a few of the uremic retention solutes fully conform to a true definition of uremic toxins. Uremic patients develop atheromatotic vascular disease more frequently and earlier than the general population. The classical risk factors seem to be less important. Other factors have been suggested to be at play, and among those uremic toxins are mentioned as potential culprits. The identification, classification and characterization of the solutes responsible for vascular problems seems of utmost importance but is far from complete due to a lack of standardization and organization. The European Uremic Toxin Work Group (EUTox) has as a primary aim to discuss, analyze and offer guidelines in matters related to the identification, characterization, analytical determination and evaluation of biological activity of uremic retention solutes. The final aim remains the development of new strategies to reduce the concentration of the most active uremic solutes. These activities will at first be concentrated on reducing factors influencing cardiovascular morbidity and mortality.