Analyses were performed on a series of 2,754 dialysis patients between the ages of 20 and 60 years whose end-stage renal disease (ESRD) therapy started in Michigan from 1980 through 1987 with the selection of either center hemodialysis (CH) or continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (CAPD). The dialytic treatment at 6 months after first ESRD therapy was selected as the dialytic "treatment of choice" for each patient. Analyses of subsequent survival showed lower death rates for black patients than for white patients with hypertension (P less than 0.01) and diabetes (P less than 0.01). Death rates increased with patient age more dramatically among glomerulonephritis patients than among the other diagnostic groups (P less than 0.05). Females had significantly lower death rates than did males among diabetic patients (P less than 0.01). While no significant difference was found in average death rates between CH and CAPD (NS), there was a significant difference (P less than 0.05) in the trend in death rates. Death rates among CH patients increased significantly (P less than 0.001) during the study period, whereas death rates among CAPD patients have improved slightly (NS).