Over a three-year period, 217 episodes of bacterial peritonitis occurred in 183 patient years. Thirty-seven episodes were due to Staphylococcus aureus and 19 (51%) of these required removal of the catheter to eradicate infection. This compared with catheter loss in 4/63 (6.3%) coagulase negative staphylococci infections (p less than 0.001); 7/67 (9.5%) culture negative peritonitis (p less than 0.001); and 10/30 (33.3%) episodes due to gram-negative organisms (p less than 0.05). Over half (51.3%) the episodes due to S. aureus were associated with exit-site infections, and this rose to 100% (10/10) with recurrent peritonitis (p less than 0.01). A prospective analysis of nasal carriage and exit-site infections due to S. aureus was carried out in 87 patients. Exit-site infections were present in 21 (24%), almost entirely due to different strains as judged by sensitivity patterns and phage typing. Nasal carriage, defined as two positive swabs within the study period, was present in 20 (23%) patients. Fourteen (70%) of these had exit-site infections due to the same strain as that isolated from the nose, whereas no patient grew different strains from either site. Nasal carriage increased the risk of infection sixfold (p less than 0.001).