Jugular venous catheters (JVC) provide rapid, vascular access for both emergency and maintenance hemodialysis in both acute and end-stage renal disease. Clotting and occlusion of JVC is a common problem necessitating alternate vascular access. Urokinase will declot 80-90% of central venous catheters; however, recurrence of catheter occlusion is frequent. We successfully employed a guide wire insertion technique to salvage occluded JVC after failed urokinase infusion. In 24 patients JVCs, inserted for either temporary or permanent vascular access, clotted within 6-55 days of initiating hemodialysis. Urokinase (5,000 IU) instilled into both arterial and venous limbs of the catheter had been unsuccessful in restoring patency. In these patients, we inserted a soft-tipped guide wire into both lumina. In 21 of 24 patients (87.5%), guide wire insertion opened the occluded JVC, permitting immediate initiation of hemodialysis. We conclude that for clotted JVC unresponsive to urokinase infusion, guide wire insertion can salvage most catheters thereby facilitating hemodialysis.