A cohort of 432 ESRD (261 hemodialysis and 171 peritoneal dialysis) patients was followed prospectively for an average of 41 months. Baseline and annual demographic, clinical and echocardiographic assessments were performed, as well as serial clinical and laboratory tests measured monthly while on dialysis therapy. The average mean arterial blood pressure level during dialysis therapy was 101 +/- 11 mm Hg. After adjusting for age, diabetes and ischemic heart disease, as well as hemoglobin and serum albumin levels measured serially, each 10 mm Hg rise in mean arterial blood pressure was independently associated with: the presence of concentric LV hypertrophy (OR 1.48, P = 0.02), the change in LV mass index (beta = 5.4 g/m2, P = 0.027) and cavity volume (beta = 4.3 ml/m2, P = 0.048) on follow-up echocardiography, the development of de novo cardiac failure (RR 1.44, P = 0.007), and the development of de novo ischemic heart disease (RR 1.39, P = 0.05). The association with LV dilation was of borderline statistical significance (OR 1.48, P = 0.06). Mean arterial blood pressures greater than 106 mm Hg were associated with both echocardiographic and clinical endpoints. Paradoxically, low mean arterial blood pressure (RR 1.36 per 10 mm Hg fall, P = 0.009) was independently associated with mortality. The association of low blood pressure with mortality was a marker for having had cardiac failure prior to death. We conclude that even moderate hypertension worsens the echocardiographic and clinical outcome in ESRD patients, especially in those without previous clinical cardiac disease.