From January 1982 to December 1993, 30 patients with multiple myeloma (MM) required haemodialysis (HD) at our institution. The subgroup of 20 patients who survived more than 2 months on HD is the subject of this study. Four patients were already on HD, due to previous nephropathy, when MM was diagnosed. 13 patients presented with acute renal failure and were on dialysis from the time of diagnosis. The remaining three cases developed renal failure later in the course of the disease. The objective response rate was 40% (8/20). Only two patients could discontinue HD (one had a late partial recovery and one received a kidney graft). Mean hospitalization per year was 19.3 d. The subgroup of patients who survived < 1 year spent a mean of 38.3 d in hospital. Whereas in the subgroup with a survival > 1 year mean hospitalization days was 9.6 (P < 0.001). The median survival was 20 months and six patients survived for > 3 years. In summary, patients with MM and severe renal failure who survive the first 2 months on dialysis have an objective response rate to chemotherapy of 40% and a median survival of almost 2 years, with 30% long-term survivors.