This multicenter regional study analyzes survival of a large group of patients who began chronic dialysis or received their first renal transplant during the 5 1/2-year period that ended in June 1983. Survival was determined from the onset of renal replacement therapy, irrespective of changes in treatment modality. Univariate life-table analysis was used to examine more than 35 risk factors. Age of patients at entry into the therapeutic program significantly affected survival. General survival rates were lower for patients with diabetes than for nondiabetics, irrespective of treatment modality, with the exception of those older than 60 years of age. Five-year graft survival was lower for diabetics than for nondiabetics in all age groups, irrespective of source. Patients with systemic lupus erythematosus, focal glomerulosclerosis, or glomerulonephritis had the highest survival rates, whereas those with primary renal malignant lesions, primary hypertensive disease, or diabetes mellitus as the cause of renal failure had the lowest. Concurrent morbid conditions that adversely affected survival included arteriosclerotic heart disease, peripheral vascular disease, noncutaneous malignant lesions, chronic pulmonary disease, and multiple coexisting morbid conditions. Although the objective of this study was to analyze survival for single patient characteristics, irrespective of treatment modality, analyses of survival rates by treatment modality for a control group indicated that minimal differences were evident by the third year among the four treatment groups: in-center hemodialysis, home hemodialysis, living related donor transplantation, and cadaver transplantation; however, recipients of cadaver grafts had lower survival rates than all other groups, even those maintained by in-center hemodialysis (P = 0.025). Statistical analysis with use of multiple regression techniques would further enhance our understanding of the combined effects of various risk factors in the prognosis of patients with end-stage renal disease.