Nine episodes of chronic peritoneal dialysis (CPD)-associated peritonitis with vancomycin resistant enterococci (VRE) were described between November 1993 and February 1996 in our dialysis unit. During the time period, 216 patients were treated for 227 episodes of peritonitis. Of the patients developing peritonitis with VRE the mean age +/- SD was 56.3 +/- 9.7 years. There were 5 females, 4 males, 5 Caucasians and 4 African-Americans. Diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease and gastrointestinal disease were present in 7, 8 and 7 of the 9 patients with VRE peritonitis, respectively. Patients were maintained on CPD therapy for an average of 29.9 +/- 19.2 patient months before developing VRE peritonitis. The prior rate of CPD associated peritonitis in the patients developing VRE peritonitis was significantly higher than the rate noted in the CPD patients not developing peritonitis with VRE (1 episode in 6.3 patient months vs. 1 episode in 12.5 patient months, P < 0.05). All 9 patients had used vancomycin in the six months prior to the development of VRE peritonitis and 78% had used a cephalosporin. The antimicrobial therapy used to eradicate peritonitis with VRE varied among the 9 patients with chloramphenicol used in 4 patients. The Tenckhoff catheter was removed in 6 of the 9 patients and was successfully reinserted in one patient. The catheter was not removed in 3 patients and 2 of these patients expired. Five of the 9 patients expired while being treated for VRE, 2 transferred to hemodialysis and 2 continued CPD therapy. VRE peritonitis is a major concern for patients maintained on CPD therapy. Future studies are needed with case controls to determine the significance of prior vancomycin and cephalosporin therapy, fecal VRE carriage and certain demographic data on the acquisition of VRE peritonitis. Furthermore, the optimal therapy and outcome may be better clarified through such a review.