It has recently been reported that patients on maintenance dialysis with the acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) survive only 1 to 3 months. We studied all patients on maintenance dialysis at the Baumritter Kidney Center who were known to be infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Five patients met the criteria for AIDS; another ten had anti-HIV antibodies but no opportunistic infections. The AIDS patients survived 8 to 18 months, and two are still alive. Mean survival in the AIDS group was 13.2 +/- 1.9 months, while the HIV(+) non-AIDS group survived 15.7 +/- 3.0 months. While these data are not statistically different, the survival curve in the AIDS group predicted a shorter survival than for the HIV(+) patients without AIDS. In fact, the survival of our dialyzed AIDS patients was similar to that reported for AIDS patients in general. Our experience suggests that dialysis may have no adverse effect on survival in AIDS. We conclude that dialysis patients with AIDS may survive 8 to 12 months or more and that the approach to such patients should be individualized.