Background: Patients reaching end-stage renal disease experience debilitating fatigue, with progression of this disease, rendering patients dysfunctional in their everyday lives. Methods: In vivomeasurements of muscle function, assessed using surface electromyography (EMG), were made on 25 patients prior to and after a session of hemodialysis (HD) treatment, alongsidein vitro measurements of muscle function in isolated rat muscles incubated in normal or uremic conditions approximating to those found in uremic rats (rat uremic: RU) or uremic humans (human uremic: HU). Results: HD significantly affected plasma values, e.g. reducing urea (69%), creatinine (62%), potassium (23%) and phosphate (48%) concentrations in patients (all p < 0.01). Treatment also improved the EMG frequency of 2nd dorsal interosseous (fast-twitch) (p < 0.01), although no change was noted for vastus lateralis (slow-twitch). In isolated rat muscles, a uremic environment had no significant effect on slow-twitch soleus during field stimulation, however, in fast-twitch extensor digitorum longus, a significant 23% (RU) and 22% (HU) faster rate of decline in force was measured, compared to controls (p < 0.001 and p < 0.01, respectively). Conclusion: It is concluded that (1) muscle weakness and its electrophysiological correlates may be rapidly induced by uremic solutes and rapidly reversed when the solutes are removed by dialysis, and (2) fast-twitch muscles are more readily affected by uremic conditions than slow-twitch muscles.