Atherosclerosis is accelerated in hemodialysis patients. Intima media thickness (IMT) is a strong predictor for cardiovascular events in the general population. Using B-mode ultrasonography, IMT in the common carotid arteries was measured in 99 nondiabetic hemodialysis patients (44 women and 55 men, mean age 53.1 years and mean dialysis duration 45.8 months). During a follow-up of 42.4 +/- 19.5 months, 33 patients died, 19 (57.6%) of them of cardiovascular causes. In these 19 patients IMT was significantly higher (0.89 vs. 0.69 mm) than in those who survived. Correlation between cardiovascular mortality and IMT was found. Patients were divided in relationship to the tertiles of IMT and the risk for cardiovascular death was progressively higher from the first tertile of IMT onward (P < 0.0006). IMT turned out to be an independent predictor of cardiovascular death (P < 0.025). According to our results IMT may be usefully applied for cardiovascular mortality risk stratification in nondiabetic hemodialysis patients.