Sodium balance in patients with renal failure varies with the severity and clinical manifestations of renal disease. Progressive chronic renal insufficiency is typified by an adaptive increase in the sodium excretion rate per nephron as the total glomerular filtration rate declines. This increase is caused, at least in part, by the effect of atrial natriuretic peptide and other natriuretic peptides, whose release is augmented in the setting of volume expansion and renal failure. However, exogenous administration of natriuretic peptides in clinical chronic and acute renal disease does not consistently increase renal sodium excretion. As the glomerular filtration rate progressively declines towards end-stage renal disease, total renal sodium excretion eventually decreases, and extracellular volume expansion, hypertension, and edema develop. Sodium removal, induced by high dose diuretics or via convective ultrafiltration during dialysis, is necessary to decrease the extracellular volume to normal.