The aim of this study was to assess the psychosocial effects of exercise training on hemodialysis (HD) patients. Thirty-one uremic patients, aged 50.6+/-11.6 years, on maintenance HD were studied. Twenty patients were selected at random for a 6-month exercise renal rehabilitation program (ERRP) consisting of 3 weekly sessions of exercise training. The other 11 patients were assigned to sedentary control status. A formal psychosocial assessment, which included affective (Beck Depression Inventory, BDI), quality of life (Quality of Life Index, QLI) and personality (Eysenck Personality Questionnaire, EPQ) parameters, was performed with validated questionnaires at the beginning and the end of the ERRP. After training significant improvement occurred in physical capacity (VO2max increased from 16.8+/-6.2 to 23.2+/-7.6 ml/kg/min, p < 0.05). Although the level of depression did not differ betwen the 2 groups at pretesting, the ERRP group showed a decrease in their self-report of depression (decrease in BDI score value, from 21.0+/-10.4 to 13.7+/-9.5, p < 0.05) after the training program. From the relationship between the baseline levels of BDI depression and changes in VO2max in the ERRP group it was suggested that the most severely depressed patients got the greatest beneficial effects from exercise training. Moreover, trained patients demonstrated an improvement in QLI (from 6.3+/-1.5 to 9.0+/-0.9, p < 0.05). This improvement was found to be dependent on the participation in ERRP, the effects of the training and the improvement in the depression. All the above functional and psychosocial parameters remained unchanged in the controls. The results demonstrate that ERRP is an effective emotional therapeutic method for HD patients and improves their quality of life.