Until now, it remains unclear whether the addition of manual daytime exchanges or increasing the nightly dialysate flow is the best strategy to optimize automated peritoneal dialysis (APD) treatment. In this open-label randomized controlled crossover trial, 18 patients with high-average (HA) or low-average (LA) peritoneal transport rates sequentially underwent two different APD regimens for 7 days each, with an intermittent washout period of 7 days. 'Manual exchange' treatment was a conventional APD with low nightly dialysate flow and one manual daytime exchange. 'High-flow' treatment was defined by cycler therapy with high dialysate flow but without manual daytime exchange. Creatinine clearances (8.56+/-1.22 vs 7.87+/-1.04 l/treatment, P = 0.011) and urea nitrogen clearances (12.83+/-1.98 vs 11.68+/-1.06 l/treatment, P = 0.014) were significantly increased during 'high-flow' treatment compared to 'manual exchange' treatment. Sodium removal was significantly lower and glucose absorption was higher with the 'high-flow' regimen. Phosphate clearances, beta2-microglobulin clearances, ultrafiltration, and peritoneal protein loss were not different between the two treatment modalities. Subgroup analysis dependent on peritoneal transport types showed that the effect on clearances was most marked and significant in HA transporters, whereas sodium removal was lowest in LA transporters. We conclude that small solute clearances can be significantly improved and middle molecule clearances maintained in APD patients by increasing the nightly dialysate flow instead of adding a manual daytime exchange. However, the possible benefit of better clearances with higher nightly treatment volumes has to be weighed against increased costs and the possible negative impact of impaired sodium removal, especially in LA transporters.