The major complication of central venous catheterization for immediate access for haemodialysis is infection. The Quinton Permcath is a tunnelled, double lumen, flexible silastic catheter with a Dacron cuff, and is claimed to be associated with a low rate of infection. In a two-year study we have monitored all complications including catheter-associated infection related to this device in haemodialysis patients while following a simple aseptic programme for the care of the catheter exit wound. Thirty four Permcaths were inserted in 30 patients for a mean duration of 6.2 months (SD +/- 5.7; range 2 days to 23 months). Catheter use amounted to a total of 197 months. Of twenty-seven catheter wound infections, 6 (22%) were caused by Staphylococcus aureus, and 15 (56%) by coagulase-negative staphylococci or corynebacteria. These occurred in 19 patients, giving an exit site infection rate of one episode per 7.4 catheter months. Catheter-associated septicaemia occurred in three patients (two S. aureus, one S. epidermidis), at a rate of one episode per 66 months. It was possible to correlate three episodes of infection with breakdown in aseptic care. This study confirms the low rate of infection associated with the use of the Permcath, and we conclude that the design of the device and aseptic care of the catheter and its wound contribute to this.