In 11 hypertriglyceridemic patients on hemodialysis, clofibrate (1 to 1.50 g per week) reduced plasma triglyceride (-40 +/- 20%, P less than 0.001), very-low-density-lipoprotein triglyceride (-44 +/- 20%, P less than 0.001) and very-low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (-39 +/- 25%, P less than 0.01), and it increased high-density-lipoprotein cholesterol (82 +/- 106%, P less than 0.005). Low pretreatment lipoprotein-lipase activity in adipose-tissue specimens and postheparin plasma increased to normal with clofibrate, whereas low hepatic triglyceride lipase activity did not change. The reduced very-low-density-lipoprotein triglyceride correlated with the increased lipoprotein-lipase activity in adipose tissue (rs = 0.792, P less than 0.02, n = 8) and postheparin plasma (rs = 0.851, P less than 0.02, n = 8), whereas increased high-density-lipoprotein cholesterol correlated with changes in this activity in adipose tissue (rs = 0.696, P less than 0.06) and post-heparin plasma (rs = 0.679, P less than 0.10). There was no correlation between changes in hepatic triglyceride lipase activity and plasma lipids during treatment. Reduced lipoprotein-lipase activity may cause hypertriglyceridemia and decreased high-density-lipoprotein cholesterol in patients on hemodialysis; clofibrate may correct these abnormalities by increasing lipoprotein-lipase activity to normal.