The morphology of gastrocnemius muscles was examined in RFPs (renal failure patients) being treated using HD (haemodialysis) and CARD (continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis). RFPs (n = 24) volunteered to participate in the present study. Twelve RFPs (five women and seven men; mean age, 55 years) were undergoing CAPD treatment and 12 RFPs (two women and ten men; mean age, 62 years) were undergoing HD treatment. Muscle biopsies from gastrocnemius muscles were found not to differ (P > 0.05) in fibre type distribution, MyHC (myosin heavy chain) expression or fibre CSA (cross-sectional area) between the two groups. There were, however, significant differences (P < 0.05) in CC/F (capillary contact/fibre), C/F (capillary to fibre ratio) and cytochrome c oxidase activity. The HD group had 33% more CC/F, with a 19% higher C/F and 33% greater cytochrome c activity in glycolytic fibres (II) than the CAPD group. There were no apparent differences in age, gender, co-morbidity, self-reported physical activity or physical functioning between the two groups, which could account for the difference in muscle capillarity between the groups. The HD patients were, however, administered heparin as a routine part of the dialysis therapy. The possibility is discussed that heparin in combination with mild anaemia and acidosis may have augmented angiogenesis in the HD patients.