Abnormal potassium metabolism may contribute to the increased cardiac morbidity and mortality seen in dialysis patients. We studied the pattern of serum potassium levels in a cohort of Chinese peritoneal dialysis (PD) patients. We studied serum potassium levels of 266 PD patients during 3 consecutive clinic visits. Dialysis adequacy, residual renal function, and nutritional status also were assessed. Patients were followed up for 33.7 +/- 20.7 months. Mean serum potassium level was 3.9 +/- 0.5 mEq/L (mmol/L). Five patients (1.9%) had an average serum potassium level less than 3 mEq/L (mmol/L), whereas 54 patients (20.3%) had a serum potassium level less than 3.5 mEq/L (mmol/L). Serum potassium levels correlated with overall Subjective Global Assessment score (r = 0.276; P < 0.001) and serum albumin level (r = 0.173; P = 0.005) and inversely with Charlson comorbidity score (r = -0.155; P = 0.011). There was no correlation between serum potassium level and daily PD exchange volume, total Kt/V, urine volume, or residual glomerular filtration rate. By means of multivariate analysis with Cox proportional hazard model to adjust for confounders, serum potassium level was an independent predictor of actuarial patient survival. PD patients with hypokalemia (serum potassium < 3.5 mEq/L [mmol/L]) had significantly worse actuarial survival (hazard ratio, 1.79; 95% confidence interval, 1.12 to 2.85; P = 0.015) than those without hypokalemia after adjusting for confounding factors. Hypokalemia is common in Chinese PD patients. Serum potassium level was associated with nutritional status and severity of coexisting comorbid condition. Furthermore, hypokalemia was an independent predictor of survival in PD patients. Additional studies may be needed to investigate the benefit of potassium supplementation for PD patients with hypokalemia.