Serial prospective observations were made on 40 patients with end-stage renal failure who transferred voluntarily from long-term maintenance hemodialysis (MHD) to continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (CAPD). Adequate data were available through 6 months on CAPD in 26 participants, whereas 20 completed the study (1 year on CAPD). There were 12 (30%) treatment failures, including two deaths. Standard CAPD (four 2-L exchanges per day) proved to be inadequate therapy in large, young males with low total urea clearances (Ktu) on MHD. There was a large variation in Ktu within MHD and CAPD therapies that employed apparently similar or identical dialysis prescriptions; this underscores the need to quantify dialysis by a measure such as Ktu. Hematocrit, white blood cell (WBC) and platelet counts, and serum bicarbonate levels were significantly higher, whereas blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and serum potassium levels were significantly lower on CAPD than on MHD. While body weight, blood pressure, bone disease, parathyroid hormone (PTH) levels, and lipid profile did not change significantly, nutritional indices tended to decline with time on CAPD. Urea generation rate (Gu) decreased significantly after transfer to CAPD and correlated with Ktu regardless of treatment modality. Central nervous system (CNS) function reflecting uremic symptomatology and as indexed by average quantified electroencephalogram (EEG) discriminant scores did not change significantly. Hospitalization rates and stays were similar during equal time intervals on both therapies. Sufficiently diverse responses followed the MHD to CAPD therapy change to warrant more extended observations on larger numbers of patients.