The radiocephalic arteriovenous fistula remains the method of choice for haemodialysis access. In order to assess their suitability for fistula formation, the radial arteries and cephalic veins were examined preoperatively by ultrasound colour flow scanner in conjunction with a pulse-generated run-off system. Intraoperative blood flow was measured after construction of the fistulae. Post-operative follow-up was performed at various intervals to monitor the development of the fistulae. Radial artery and cephalic vein diameter less than 1.6 mm was associated with early fistula failure. The intraoperative fistula blood flow did not correlate with the outcome of the operation probably due to vessel spasm from manipulation. However, blood flow velocities measured non-invasively 1 day after the operation were significantly lower in fistulae that failed early compared with those that were adequate for haemodialysis. Most of the increase in fistula diameter and blood flow occur within the first 2 weeks of surgery.