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To determine factors involved in peritoneal dialysis-associated peritonitis and catheter loss, all point prevalent peritoneal dialysis patients in Health Care Finance Administration (HCFA) end-stage renal disease (ESRD) Network 9 were followed throughout 1991 for peritonitis events and throughout 1991 to 1992 for catheter survival. Data were collected by questionnaires compiled by the dialysis facility and validated by network staff. Peritonitis was reported 1,168 times in 729 of the 1,930 patients. By gamma-Poisson regression, a significantly increased risk for peritonitis was observed for patients with previous peritonitis, black race, and those dialyzing with standard connectors or cyclers compared with disconnect systems. Decreased risks were observed for patients with longer ESRD experience and when prophylactic antibiotics were administered before catheter insertion. Postinsertion leakage, diabetes, visual problems, previous or current immunosuppression, and physical activity were not risk factors. Infection of any kind caused the removal of 68% of the 414 catheters lost. Patients with downward-directed tunnels were less likely to experience concomitant exit site/tunnel infections associated with peritonitis. Peritonitis episodes with Staphylococcus epidermidis-like organisms were more likely to resolve with a single course of antibiotics. Perhaps because of their higher infection rate, blacks were more likely than whites to use a disconnect system. In general, the outcome of peritonitis in blacks was similar to that in whites, except that blacks were less likely to be hospitalized and were less likely to die.