Venous dialysis pressures were measured consecutively in 168 chronic hemodialysis patients for 265 patient-years of monitored dialysis. Venous dialysis pressure greater than 150 mm Hg measured by the protocol were considered elevated. Seventy-three patients had elevated venous dialysis pressures and 58 agreed to undergo elective venography (fistulogram). Fifty of 58 patients studied (86%) had significant venous stenoses. A combination of percutaneous transluminal angioplasty (PTA) and surgical revision were used to electively treat these stenoses. Early detection and treatment of these stenoses decreased fistula thrombosis and fistula replacement threefold compared with our earlier experiences. Patients with elevated venous dialysis pressure who were venogramed and treated had an occurrence of fistula thrombosis similar to patients with normal dialysis pressure (0.15 and 0.13 episodes per patient year of dialysis respectively, P = NS). In contrast patients with elevated venous dialysis pressure who refused elective fistulogram and treatment averaged 1.4 episodes of thrombosis per patient year of dialysis (P less than 0.001) compared to both other groups). We conclude that elevated venous dialysis pressure is a reliable method of detecting fistula stenoses and that the elective treatment of these stenoses significantly decreases fistula thrombosis and fistula loss.