End-stage renal disease (ESRD) is associated with increased propensity to infections, diminished response to vaccination, impaired cell-mediated immunity, and reduced CD4+/CD8+ T-lymphocyte ratio. Four subsets of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells have been recently identified: naïve cells (as yet uncommitted), central memory (CM) cells (previously programmed), and CD45RA-positive and CD45RA-negative effector memory (EM) cells (programmed to perform specific effector functions). The effect of ESRD on subpopulations of T lymphocytes is unclear and was studied here. Twenty-one hemodialysis patients and 21 age-matched controls were studied. Pre- and post-dialysis blood samples were obtained and analyzed by three-color flow cytometry. CD4+/CD8+ ratio and the numbers of the naïve and CM CD4+ and CD8+ T cells were significantly reduced, whereas the numbers of EM CD4+ and CD8+ T cells were unchanged in the ESRD group. The reduction of the naïve and CM T-cell counts in the ESRD group was associated with increased apoptosis of these cells. Negative correlations were found between severity of azotemia, oxidative stress, and hyperphosphatemia with the number of naïve T cells. Comparison of diabetic with non-diabetic ESRD patients revealed higher numbers of total CD8+ cells and EM CD8+ T cells in the diabetic group. Dialysis did not significantly change the naïve and CM CD4+ or CD8+ cell counts, but significantly lowered CD8+ EM cell count. Thus, ESRD results in increased apoptosis and diminished populations of naïve and CM T lymphocytes. This phenomenon may, in part, contribute to the impaired immune response in this population.