The survival of patients in end-stage renal failure from lupus nephritis offered renal substitution therapy has been the subject of conflicting reports. Trying to clarify the reasons for this discrepancy, we analysed our experience with dialysis and transplantation in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Of our 138 patients with lupus nephritis, 26 reached end-stage renal failure, of whom 24 received replacement therapy. Fourteen patients had a marked acute deterioration in renal function immediately before reaching terminal uremia, associated with active SLE in 12 and acute tubular necrosis after hypotension in one. Nine patients in this group died, 8 within 1 month of beginning dialysis. Nine patients progressed slowly to endstage renal failure over 2 to 7 years, without evidence of active SLE: only 1 required aggressive treatment and only 3 patients died, 1 five years after transplantation. Eight patients received altogether 10 allografted kidneys; 4 still functioning 10-24 months later; 2 patients are back on dialysis and 2 died, 1 of a myocardial infarct. There was no evidence of active SLE after transplantation. Ten patients were dialysed for more than 3 months; most were maintained on prednisolone and azathioprine whilst on dialysis and lupus activity tended to abate. The exclusion of the group of patients with rapid pre-terminal decrease in renal function from some series may explain some of the differences in reported survival. Stable patients with SLE present few problems in end-stage renal failure or after transplantation.