CD14 is a key molecule in innate immunity that mediates cell activation and signaling in response to endotoxin and other bacterial wall-derived components. CD14 protein exists in soluble (sCD14) and membrane-bound forms. The correlates of sCD14 in persons undergoing long-term hemodialysis (HD) therapy are not known. We hypothesized that increased sCD14 levels in HD patients are associated with proinflammatory cytokine activation and increased mortality.Cohort study.310 long-term HD patients who participated in the Nutritional and Inflammatory Evaluation in Dialysis (NIED) Study, a cohort derived from a pool of more than 3,000 HD outpatients during 5 years in 8 DaVita maintenance dialysis facilities in the South Bay Los Angeles, CA, area.sCD14 levels in serum.33-month mortality.Mean sCD14 level was 7.24 +/- 2.45 microg/mL. Tumor necrosis factor alpha level was the strongest correlate of sCD14 level (r = +0.24; P < 0.001), followed by interleukin 6 level (r = +0.18; P = 0.002), serum ferritin level (r = +0.21; P < 0.001), total iron-binding capacity (r = -0.19; P < 0.001), body mass index (r = -0.15; P = 0.008), vintage (r = +0.14; P = 0.01), low-density lipoprotein cholesterol level (r = +0.13; P = 0.03), and body fat (r = -0.11; P = 0.06). During the 33-month follow-up, 71 (23%) patients died. Multivariable Cox proportional analysis adjusted for case-mix and other nutritional and inflammatory confounders, including serum tumor necrosis factor alpha, C-reactive protein, and interleukin 6 levels, showed that compared with the lowest sCD14 tertile, sCD14 levels in the third tertile (>7.8 microg/mL) were associated with greater death risk (hazard ratio, 1.94; 95% confidence interval, 1.01 to 3.75; P = 0.04).Survivor bias in combined incident/prevalent studies.Increased sCD14 level is related positively to markers of inflammation and negatively to nutritional status and is an independent predictor of mortality in long-term HD patients. Additional studies are needed to examine the usefulness of sCD14 level in risk stratification and the clinical decision-making process in HD patients.