This report encompasses data collected from all Canadian patients starting treatment for end-stage renal failure (ESRF) from 1981 until the end of 1987. Gross mortality showed an initial decline, but has stabilized since 1985. The year of entry into the system did not change the survival rate. There was an increase in the rate of acceptance of new patients between 1982 and 1987. The largest increases were in the older age groups, and resulted in a concomitant increase in the number of registered patients in older age groups. Survival on dialysis by age group declined with age. There was no difference in patient survival on hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis. The probability of death for all patients entering the ESRF system remained constant notwithstanding year of entry into the system. It was slightly higher for males than females, much higher for patients with diabetes or renal vascular disease, higher with age, and much higher for patients not undergoing transplant.