In a multi-centre study by seven large renal units in the United Kingdom, the morbidity and mortality of all patients starting CAPD and haemodialysis during a 2-year period (1983-1984) has been monitored prospectively and related to reasons for choice of therapy and potential risk factors. Over this period 338 new patients (mean age 48; range 3-77 years) started CAPD; 17% had diabetes mellitus and 25% had cerebro/cardiovascular disease. One hundred and seventy-five patients (mean age 45; range 5-73 years) started haemodialysis; 6% had diabetes mellitus and 14% had cerebro/cardiovascular disease. The Kaplan-Meier actuarial patient survival estimates at 2 years were haemodialysis 84% and CAPD 83%, whilst technique survival figures for the same period were haemodialysis 92% and CAPD 80%. Cox's regression analysis showed that cerebro/cardiovascular disease and age greater than 60 years were most important predictors for survival in CAPD patients, in whom smoking appeared to be a significant risk factor, for permanent change of therapy to haemodialysis. The major cause of 'drop out' in both groups was transplantation, whilst hospitalisation was 14.9 days per patient year for CAPD and 12.8 for haemodialysis patients. Within the CAPD group a temporary change to haemodialysis (less than 2 months) occurred on 106 occasions (each of mean of 19 days duration), amounting to 10 days per patient year of therapy. CAPD was used twice as often as haemodialysis for managing new patients. After 2 years hospitalisation technique and patient survival were comparable in the two groups, with cerebro/cardiovascular disease, age, and smoking being significant predictors of outcome.