We have assessed the bone histology in 259 chronic dialysis patients, all of whom were in the same dialysis program. All patients had bone biopsies with quantitative histomorphometry, intact parathyroid hormone (PTH) measurements, basal and deferoxamine stimulated serum aluminum levels. Results demonstrate the increased incidence of the recently described aplastic bone lesion, particularly in patients treated with peritoneal dialysis (PD). Aluminum-related bone disease is much less common than previously described, perhaps in relation to the declining use of aluminum as a phosphate binder. A different pattern of bone lesions is seen in PD as compared with hemodialysis (HD), with low turnover disorders comprising 66% of the lesions seen in PD and high turnover lesions accounting for 62% of the bone histologic findings in HD. The difference in these patterns may relate to alterations in PTH levels, as mean PTH levels in HD patients were 2-1/2 times the levels found in PD patients (P < 0.0005), while older age, higher prevalence of diabetes and a shorter duration of dialysis may also have contributed to the findings in the PD patients. We suggest that PD, perhaps by maintaining calcium at higher levels, may more effectively suppress the parathyroid gland.