The value of contrast dye to the planning and evaluation of cardiovascular disease cannot be overestimated. However, adverse renal sequellae may cause the surgeon to hesitate in obtaining an arteriogram, especially in patients with compromised renal function. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the incidence of renal dysfunction in patients requiring angiography. Standard contrast angiography for cerebral or peripheral vascular disease was administered to 150 consecutive patients (89 men and 61 women), with an average age of 63.3 years (range 49 to 89 years). All patients received 100 to 150 ml of dye, with a concentration of approximately 50% iodine. Patients were hydrated with 0.5 N saline/5% dextrose, intravenously, for 8 hours before the procedure (1 to 3 ml/kg/hr). In 31 patients (11 women and 20 men) the serum BUN and/or creatinine levels were elevated (mean BUN value of 48 +/- 9 mg/dl; mean creatinine level of 2.8 +/- 0.6 mg/dl). The patients with abnormal renal function received an additional 300 to 500 ml of intravenous fluid, plus 20 to 40 mg intravenous furosemide, 1 hour before roentgenography to establish a diuresis. All patients were hydrated for 6 hours after angiography with the same solution at the same rate (1 to 3 ml/kg/hr). There were no episodes of compromised renal or cardiopulmonary dysfunction because of contrast angiography. In no patient did the BUN or creatinine level rise, nor was there evidence of acute tubular necrosis, as documented by oliguria and abnormal cells in the urine. Angiography is a safe procedure, even with patients who may have compromised renal function, if appropriate prehydration/posthydration and diuretic measures are undertaken.