We examined the nutritional status of 224 patients from six centers in Europe and North America to assess the incidence of protein-energy malnutrition. A "subjective nutritional assessment" was made, using 21 variables derived from history and clinical examination, or anthropometry and biochemistry. Eighteen patients (8%) were severely malnourished, 73 (32.6%) were mildly to moderately malnourished, and 133 (59.4%) did not show evidence for malnutrition. There was a higher incidence of mild to moderate malnutrition in diabetics than in nondiabetics. A statistical analysis identified 12 variables, seven objective and five subjective, that correlated with subjective nutritional assessment. Actual intercenter differences for the incidence of malnutrition were related to patient age, nutritional status at the commencement of continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (CAPD), the length of time on CAPD, and residual renal function. Variables that were most frequently correlated with subjective nutritional assessment and with one another included plasma albumin, mid-arm muscle circumference (MAMC), weight loss, and the clinical judgement of muscle wasting and loss of subcutaneous fat. Loss of residual renal function correlated with muscle wasting and months on CAPD. Our data identified differences between the two sexes. In women there was a trend for more anorexia, greater weight loss from muscle wasting, and a larger decrease in albumin, whereas in men there was a more gradual decrease in nutritional status. Loss of residual renal function contributed to anorexia and symptoms of severe malnutrition.