Staphylococcus aureus bacteremia occurred 96 times in 58 of 671 patients on chronic hemodialysis during a nine-year period. Seventy-one instances of bacteremia originated in the vascular access site and resulted in the loss of the access device in 45 episodes. The overall mortality was 8%, and the incidence of infective endocarditis was 4%. Death occurred more often when bacteremia arose from an identifiable site other than the vascular access device (P less than .02). Patients who developed one or more metastatic foci of infection had a higher incidence of primary treatment failure (P less than .001) and a higher mortality (P less than .001) than did those with no metastatic infection. Although meaningful comparisons of differing antibiotic regimens could not be made, patients receiving antibiotic therapy for 28 days or longer relapsed less frequently (P less than .05). These data suggest that chronic hemodialysis patients with S aureus bacteremia have a relatively low mortality and a low risk of infective endocarditis. Antibiotic treatment, however, should be given for at least 28 days in order to minimize the risk of relapse.