The purpose of the study was to describe in a cross sectional manner the self-reported level of health of a group of continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (CAPD) patients and to establish whether any clinical or laboratory variables correlated with this measure of health. While undergoing routine baseline and 6 monthly measurements of weekly total urea over volume distribution (Kt/V) and weekly creatinine clearance (Ccr)/1.73 m2 body surface area (BSA), 57 patients voluntarily completed the Short Form 36 health status questionnaire (SF36) (a self-report, multidimensional, generic measure of health status). Weekly Kt/V was correlated with weekly Ccr (r = 0-81, p < 0.001). Thirty-one of the 57 patients were recorded as having Ccr < 65 L/week. A comparison with Australian interim normative data demonstrated that this group of CAPD patients reported lower scores on the eight physical and mental health components that are measured by the SF36 than did the general population. Patients who were most impaired in their physical functioning were more likely to be older, overweight, and to have a lower normalized protein catabolic rate (nPCR). Patients who were adequately dialyzed (Ccr > or = 65 L/week/1.73 m2) reported greater vitality than those patients recorded as having Ccr < 65 L/week/1.73 m2.