The incidence of stroke is substantially higher among hemodialysis patients than among patients with earlier stages of CKD, but to what extent the initiation of dialysis accelerates the risk for stroke is not well understood. In this cohort study, we analyzed data from incident hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis patients in 2009 who were at least 67 years old and had Medicare as primary payer. We noted whether each of the 20,979 hemodialysis patients initiated dialysis as an outpatient (47%) or inpatient (53%). One year before initiation, the baseline stroke rate was 0.15%-0.20% of patients per month (ppm) for both outpatient and inpatient initiators. Among outpatient initiators, stroke rates began rising approximately 90 days before initiation, reached 0.5% ppm during the 30 days before initiation, and peaked at 0.7% ppm (8.4% per patient-year) during the 30 days after initiation. The pattern was similar among inpatient initiators, but the stroke rate peaked at 1.5% ppm (18% per patient-year). For both hemodialysis groups, stroke rates rapidly declined by 1-2 months after initiation, fluctuated, and stabilized at approximately twice the baseline rate by 1 year. Among the 620 peritoneal dialysis patients, stroke rates were slightly lower and variable, but approximately doubled after initiation. In conclusion, these data suggest that the process of initiating dialysis may cause strokes. Further studies should evaluate methods to mitigate the risk for stroke during this high-risk period.