A high frequency of cancer appears among uremic patients. As depressed DNA repair ability is thought to be one of the causes for malignancy in cancer prone diseases, the present study was undertaken to examine DNA repair in uremic patients. Unscheduled DNA repair synthesis in peripheral lymphocytes was measured after both ultraviolet (UV) and gamma irradiations. In hemodialysis (HD) patients the repairs were normal, but in chronic renal failure (CRF) patients not yet on dialysis treatment, both UV- and gamma-induced DNA repair abilities were depressed to about 60% of the control. Recovery of RNA synthesis after UV irradiation followed the same pattern: it was reduced in CRF but normal in HD cells. When CRF lymphocytes were incubated in normal plasma, the UV-stimulated DNA repair improved to a nearly normal level, whereas incubation of normal cells in CRF plasma depressed their repair capacity to 70% of the initial level. These results suggest that a plasmatic substance such as the carcinogenic heterocyclic amines may be involved in the impairment of DNA repair in chronic renal failure.