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Patients on continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (CAPD) who reside long distances from a CAPD center often use community medical laboratories to document and manage episodes of peritonitis. We examined the feasibility of using large volume cultures as an alternative to more costly and labor intensive methods and to enhance earlier recovery of microorganisms from these patients. Three methods of processing dialysate from patients on CAPD were compared: (a) inoculation of 400 mL dialysate into a transfer bag (Baxter Healthcare, Inc., Round Lake, IL) containing 100 mL of 5-fold concentrate of trypticase-soy broth: (b) inoculation of 5 mL into each of two Bactec bottles (Johnston Laboratories, Towson, MD): and (c) centrifugation of 50 mL and culture of the sediment without white cell lysis on plated media and two Bactec bottles. Of the 58 specimens cultured, 34 (59%) were positive by one or more methods. Antimicrobial activity was detected in 20/58 (34%) dialysates, which represent 54% of all no-growth cultures. Of the 34 culture-positive specimens, microorganisms were recovered on plated media in 22 (65%); by the centrifugation system in 32 (94%); by the routine Bactec system in 28 (82%); and by large volume culture in 30 (88%). The large volume culture system is an acceptable alternative to the more costly Bactec System and the labor intensive centrifugation method but does not significantly improve recovery of microorganisms.