Infection often complicates renal failure and frequently causes death, but the association between renal failure, impaired immunity and infection has not been proved. A recent study showed that patients on dialysis did not show an expected leucocytic response to infection, suggesting that the blunted response was evidence of the immunocompromised state of the uraemic patient. In this study, the relationship between leucocytic responses and infectious challenge was investigated in an animal model of chronic renal failure. Bacteraemia, peritonitis and a chronic lung infection were induced in normal and uraemic rats; the leucocytic response was then monitored. In all three infections, the total white blood cell response was significantly less in the uraemic animals. Neutrophil numbers actually increased, but this response was disguised by a pronounced depression in lymphocyte numbers. Our conclusion is that, although the leucocytic response of the uraemic host to infection may be depressed, the changes to individual leucocyte components in the peripheral blood are sufficiently characteristic to provide useful evidence of infection.