Pruritus is a significant problem for many patients undergoing long-term hemodialysis. Topical capsaicin depletes and prevents the reaccumulation of substance P in peripheral sensory neurons. Substance P functions in the transmission of pain and probably itch sensations. An open-label, uncontrolled trial and a double-blind, vehicle-controlled trial were conducted to evaluate the efficacy and safety of capsaicin 0.025% cream in the treatment of localized areas of pruritus in patients undergoing long-term hemodialysis. Eight of nine evaluable patients in the open-label trial reported marked relief or complete resolution of itching during the study period, and two of five evaluable patients in the double-blind trial reported complete resolution of itching in the capsaicin-treated arm with no or minimal improvement in the vehicle-treated arm. Twelve patients in the open-label trial and two in the double-blind trial were unevaluable. No serious treatment-related adverse reactions occurred.