Patients on long-term hemodialysis (HD) are known to develop amyloid osteoarthropathy, evidenced as cystic radiolucencies on X-rays of the affected joints. To study the relationship between cystic radiolucencies and amyloid osteoarthropathy in 394 patients, we classified the severity of the cystic radiolucencies seen in the wrist joint on a 4-point scale and evaluated the association between lesion severity (grade) and several parameters. Biopsy was performed in 8 patients with 11 bone cysts of the wrist joint who had been operated for carpal tunnel syndrome. HD for 10 years or longer, age 50 or older and the presence of carpal tunnel syndrome were associated with severe cyst rating. There was no association between lesion grade and serum level of PTH-C, aluminum or beta 2-microglobulin (B2M). Ten of the 11 biopsied bone cysts in 8 patients with carpal tunnel syndrome demonstrated amyloid deposits which reacted with B2M. We conclude that a cystic radiolucency observed in the wrist joint of a patient undergoing HD indicates the deposition of amyloid. The cyst grade provides a useful marker for the severity of amyloid osteoarthropathy in HD patients.