The most commonly used technique for insertion of peritoneal dialysis (PD) catheters is open surgical approach by minilaparotomy. Percutaneous implantation via the peritoneoscopic technique is expanding. Studies have suggested that PD catheters placed peritoneoscopically have longer survival rate than surgically placed ones. However, these studies were not randomized, where the surgical group had more patients who were obese or had prior abdominal surgery, and therefore, the selection of patients may have biased the results. We conducted a prospective randomized study in which patients underwent PD catheter placement by either the surgical or the peritoneoscopic technique. In the period from October 1992 through October 1995, 148 double-cuff, curled-end, swan-neck PD catheters were placed in 148 patients. The outcome of the 76 patients in whom the PD catheters were placed peritoneoscopically was compared with that of the 72 patients in whom the catheters were placed surgically. Early peritonitis episodes (within 2 weeks of catheter placement) occurred in 9 of 72 patients (12.5%) in the surgical group, versus 2 of 76 patients (2.6%) in the peritoneoscopy group (P = 0.02). This higher rate of infection was most likely related to a higher exit site leak in the surgical group (11.1%) as compared with the peritoneoscopy group (1.3%). Moreover, peritoneoscopically placed catheters were found to have better survival (77.5% at 12 months, 63% at 24 months, and 51.3% at 36 months) than those placed surgically (62.5% at 12 months, 41.5% at 24 months, and 36% at 36 months) with P = 0.02, 0.01, and 0.04, respectively. We conclude that peritoneoscopically placed PD catheters have a longer survival rate than surgically placed ones. Furthermore, the rate of exit site leak and early infection is lower in the peritoneoscopic method.