BACKGROUND: The purpose of this study was to investigate haemodialysis (HD) dose practice patterns in different European countries in the light of the European Best Practice Guidelines (EBPG) and to study the associations of patient characteristics and country with weekly dialysis duration. METHODS: Renal registries in Europe were asked to contribute to the study with individual patient data on weekly HD duration, number of HD sessions a week and last measured Kt/V. Additional items were age, sex, date of first renal replacement therapy (RRT), dry weight, height, HD modality, HD technique, diabetes status and vascular access type. Multivariate logistic regression was used to study the probability of receiving HD for <12 h per week. RESULTS: Seven registries contributed data on 26 136 patients on HD on 31 December 2005. Eighty-three percent of the patients received HD for at least 12 h per week as recommended by the EBPG (range 49.0-97.3% across countries). Multivariate analysis showed significant differences across countries concerning the risk of receiving <12 h. Other risk factors included age (older), sex (female), BMI (low) and duration of RRT (shorter). Diabetes was associated with longer total HD duration. CONCLUSION: This study shows a great international variability in weekly HD duration and some discrepancies between current practices and the EBPG. It also points out the difficulty of obtaining and comparing Kt/V values under current registry practices.