A survival analysis was applied to 1,453 patients treated between 1972 and 1978 in 33 French dialysis centers and prospectively followed up in the computerized Diaphane Dialysis Registry. 198 deaths (overall mortality = OM) were registered, of which 87 (43%) were secondary to cardiovascular complications (cardiovascular mortality = CVM). Risk factors for OM and CVM (p values less than 0.05) were age, male sex, nephroangiosclerosis or diabetic nephropathy as the primary renal disease, elevated systolic and diastolic blood pressure and two weekly dialysis rather then three. In contrast with the results observed for the general population, a high body mass index and elevated cholesterol, triglycerides and uric acid were not found to be associated with significantly increased CVM or OM. On the contrary, low body mass index (less than 20 kg/m2), low cholesterol (less than 4.5 mmol/l) and low mean predialysis blood urea (less than 4.6 mmol/l) were associated with increased OM and CVM, and more especially with high stroke mortality. Results for urea but not for cholesterol remain significant after adjustment for age, sex, weekly dialysis schedule and body mass index. They suggest that, in addition to elevated blood pressure, a poor nutritional state and/or low protein intake may be important factors for explaining the high cardiovascular mortality, particularly for strokes, observed in dialyzed patients.