Patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) are at high risk from potentially devastating cardiovascular sequelae due to the unique clustering of risk factors in these patients. Inflammation is believed to play a key role in the pathogenesis of these cardiovascular lesions. Both pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines produced from monocytes, and also from adipocytes, have been studied in this regard. Pro-inflammatory cytokines, although cytoprotective acutely, correlate with increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in chronic situations. Conversely, elevated levels of anti-inflammatory mediators are associated with increased patient survival times. Statistical modelling, calculation of relative risk and cost considerations indicate that determination of serum C-reactive protein levels may be a useful predictor of CVD in ESRD patients. Adipocytes are a rich source of many of the same cytokines produced by monocytes, including interleukin-6, tumour necrosis factor-alpha, as well as adipocyte-specific proteins, leptin and adiponectin (ADPN). ADPN, which is produced in much greater quantities than leptin, is inversely related to body mass index and to insulin resistance, suggesting a possible role in type 2 diabetes. Additionally, ADPN has been shown to modulate the endothelial inflammatory response in vitro. Plasma ADPN levels are an inverse predictor of cardiovascular outcomes among patients with ESRD. Furthermore, ADPN is related to several metabolic risk factors in a manner consistent with the hypothesis that this protein acts as a protective factor for the cardiovascular system.