Patients undergoing maintenance hemodialysis were asked to complete a questionnaire to define further the nature of uremic pruritus. Of the 237 respondents, 87 (37%) reported "prolonged bothersome itchiness" at the time surveyed, and an additional 97 (41%), not affected at that time, had experienced this problem in the past. Of the 184 patients who reported pruritus in either the past or present, discomfort occurred only during or soon after dialysis in 46 (25%) patients and was most severe at those times in an additional 78 (42%) patients. Topical emollients and orally administered antipruritic agents provided relief in only 33 (18%) and 31 (17%) patients, respectively. These data provide the first statistical basis for certain clinical impressions concerning uremic pruritus and suggest it is not as common among patients who are undergoing dialysis as has been previously implied.