Five patients with a side-to-side arteriovenous fistula complaining of pain, numbness, and cold sensation were evaluated by pulse oximetry. Low SaO2 was noticed in all five. Closure of a major proximal venous collateral vessel eliminated the steal and resulted in SaO2 correction and was followed by clinical amelioration. Pulse oximetry proved to be a helpful adjunct in the evaluation of the painful hand after creation of an arteriovenous fistula. By applying the pulse oximeter to the patient's affected limb, we were able to determine whether the pain was a result of ischemia and if the correction of the steal improved oxygenation.