Intracellular calcium is a major determinant of a wide variety of cell functions and thus of organ function. In order to get a clear picture of the intracellular calcium status it is preferable to assess the content of the various intracellular calcium pools as well as the characteristics of the transmembrane calcium movements, Le., the magnitude of the transmembrane Ca2+ flux upon stimulation and the rate of the subsequent return to baseline levels. The first aim of this study was to establish and evaluate the methods in the laboratory. The methods investigated include atomic absorption spectrometry, graphite furnace atomic absorption spectrometry and inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry for the determination of the total cell calcium content, fluorescence spectrophotometry for the determinations of intracellular free Ca2+ and transmembrane Ca2+ movements and transmission electron microscopy for the localisation of intracellular calcium. The methods eventually identified as feasible included fluorescence spectrophotometry for the determination of intracellular free Ca2+ and transmembrane Ca2+ movements and transmission electron microscopy for the localisation of intracellular calcium. The newly developed fluorescent calcium indicator, fura-PE3, was presently shown to be the most reliable fluorescent indicator for the intracellular free Ca2+ determinations. The best method for the calcium localisation by transmission electron microscopy was an adaptation of the antimonate precipitation technique. The following objectives were set in order to contribute to the knowledge in chronic renal failure; examination of the intracellular free Ca2+ content in the neutrophils of end stage renal failure patients on maintenance haemodialysis treatment, as the result of renal failure, dialysis treatment and medication combined; examination of the characteristics of the transmembrane Ca2+ movements; investigation of the intracellular calcium distribution in the neutrophils; exploration of a possible link between the alterations in intracellular calcium status and factors known to influence the calcium status, including the lipid composition of the membrane, the oxidative status as reflected by anti-oxidant vitamin levels, as well as the levels of parathyroid hormone, and ionised serum calcium. This study involved 14 chronic renal failure patients on maintenance haemodialysis. An increase in intracellular free Ca2+, the magnitude of the transmembrane Ca2+ flux upon fMLP stimulation and an increase in the rate of the subsequent decrease in intracellular free calcium were found. In separating the patients into those receiving rHuEPO and those not receiving rHuEPO, it was seen that the significance in the increase in intracellular free Ca2+ could be ascribed to the values obtained in those patients receiving rHuEPO - despite the fact that they were the only patients receiving calcium channel blockers. No overt indications of oxidative stress could be detected by anti-oxidant vitamin levels. Nevertheless, a decrease in the content of specific membrane fatty acids occurred, supporting the previous suggestions of the presence of a mild chronic inflammatory condition in the chronic renal failure patient on maintenance haemodialysis treatment. These results suggest that factors other than those associated with uraemia, such as rHuEPO administration, might result in an increase in intracellular free Ca2+ in cells of CRF/MHT patients. The magnitude of the rHuEPD-induced increase in intracellular free Ca2+ and the effects of the various calcium channel blockers need urgent further investigation as ineffective counteraction of the rHuEPO effect, as indicated by the relative ineffectivity of Norvasc, may have serious side-effects.