Contrast medium-induced nephropathy (CIN) is a serious complication with increasing frequency and an unfavorable prognosis. Previous analyses of surrogate parameters have suggested beneficial effects of hemodialysis that are assessed in this randomized clinical trial. We performed a prospective single-center trial in 424 consecutive patients with serum creatinine concentrations between 1.3- 3.5 mg/dl who underwent elective coronary angiography. Patients were randomized to one of three treatment strategies with all patients receiving pre- and postprocedural hydration: One group received no additional therapy, patients in the second group were hemodialyzed once, and the third group received oral N-acetylcysteine. The frequency of CIN (defined as an increase in serum creatinine>or=0.5 mg/dl) from 48 to 72 h after catheterization was 6.1% in the hydration-only group, 15.9% with hemodialysis treatment, and 5.3% in the N-ACC group (intention-to-treat analysis; P=0.008). There were no differences between the treatment groups with regard to increased (>or=0.5 mg/dl) serum creatinine concentrations after 30-60 days (4.8%, 5.1%, and 3.1%, respectively; P=0.700). Analyses of long-term follow-up (range 63 to 1316 days) by Cox regressions models of the study groups found quite similar survival rates (P=0.500). In contrast to other (retrospective) studies, long-term survival of patients with vs those without CIN within 72 h was not different, but patients who still had elevated creatinine concentrations at 30-60 days suffered from a markedly higher 2-year mortality (46% vs 17%, P=0.002). In conclusion, hemodialysis in addition to hydration therapy for the prevention of CIN provided no evidence for any outcome benefit but evidence for probable harm. Increased creatinine concentrations at 30-60 days, but not within 72 h, were associated with markedly reduced long-term survival.