This study reports on the five years' evolution of the KT/V urea index and protein catabolic rate (PCR) in 16 CAPD patients who were treated with a constant daily dialysis dose. Total KT/V urea index decreased with time from a value of 0.96 +/- 0.06 at the start to 0.55 +/- 0.05 at five years of treatment. This decline was due to the opposite changes of two important parameters affecting the index. First, the contribution of the residual urinary KT/V gradually decreased from 28.6% at the start to 8 to 9% after four years. Second, the distribution volume of urea calculated as a constant fraction of body weight gradually increased. The body weight increased from 58.2 +/- 2.79 kg at start to 70.6 +/- 3.33 kg at five years. Peritoneal urea clearances and ultrafiltration rates remained stable. In 12 patients with stable body weight between 24 and 48 months, PCR decreased from 0.98 +/- 0.05 to 0.87 +/- 0.05 g/kg/day. A positive correlation between KT/V urea and PCR and a negative correlation between KT/V urea and number of hospitalization days, peritonitis rates and peripheral nerve conductivity was found. The same negative correlation was found when only the KT/V urea index obtained during the first year of treatment was considered. In conclusion, the KT/V urea index decreases in CAPD patients primarily because residual renal function decreases and body weight increases, while the peritoneal clearing for urea is maintained. The index correlates with some clinical parameters, and may have some prognostic value.