The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of nocturnal hemodialysis (NHD) on serum amino acid (AA) profile. In a cross-over trial, we studied the AA profile in 11 patients who were switched from conventional hemodialysis to NHD. Plasma levels of AA were measured at monthly intervals for a period of 1 year. Concentrations of AA isoleucine, threonine, phenylalanine, valine, glycine, glutamine and taurine increased on switch to NHD. Total AA (2,907.2 +/- 542.2 vs. 3,870.2 +/- 715.2 micromol/l, p = 0.03), essential AA (EAA, 842.2 +/- 259.4 vs. 1,125. 8 +/- 235.3 micromol/l, p = 0.03), nonessential AA (NEAA, 2,307.2 +/- 399.1 vs. 2,879.5 +/- 581.2 micromol/l, p = 0.03), and branched chain AA (315.5 +/- 90.8 vs. 386.0 +/- 114.3 micromol/l, p = 0.05) concentrations were significantly higher on NHD. However, abnormalities in the ratios of EAA/NEAA, valine/glycine and tyrosine/phenylalanine persisted during NHD. NHD alleviated some abnormalities in the aminogram of uremia, but other metabolic derangements lingered.