We undertook the present study to determine whether there might be variables other than CD4 counts which might help predict survival of HIV-infected patients who are placed on chronic hemodialysis, survival which often is extremely poor. We studied prospectively (n = 18) and retrospectively (n = 6) 24 consecutive HIV-positive patients on chronic hemodialysis at our institution over a 7-year period and recorded clinical and laboratory variables at the time of initiation of dialysis. The mean survival for the group as a whole was 11 +/- 8 (range 2-32) months. A highly significant positive correlation was found between survival and CD4 counts (p < 0.001) and blood pressure (systolic, p < 0.02; diastolic, p < 0.05; mean arterial, p < 0.05). Infection rate and urine protein excretion both had significant negative correlations with survival (p < 0.01 and p < 0.02, respectively). The presence of edema appeared to have a positive effect on survival (p < 0.01). The use of antiretroviral therapy resulted in significantly greater survival of HIV-infected patients (15.2 +/- 2.2 vs. 6.2 +/- 1.2 months, p < 0.01). Using a general linear model, it was found that CD4 count and systolic, diastolic, and mean arterial blood pressures and infection rate all were independent estimators of survival. We conclude that variables other than CD4 counts might also be useful in predicting survival in HIV-infected patients on chronic hemodialysis.