Patients with Stage 5 chronic kidney disease who have hyperphosphatemia require treatment with phosphate binders to lower serum phosphorus levels. Existing binders are effective but may be associated with important safety disadvantages. Lanthanum carbonate is a phosphate binder with demonstrated efficacy, safety, and tolerability in clinical trials. Changes in cognitive function were evaluated over time using the Cognitive Drug Research computerized cognitive assessment system (Simple Reaction Time, Digit Vigilance Task, Choice Reaction Time, Numeric Working Memory, and Delayed Picture Recognition) in 360 hemodialysis patients who were enrolled in a 2-year, multicenter, comparative study of lanthanum carbonate versus standard therapy. A decline in cognitive function from baseline was observed in both groups. The deterioration in cognitive function was similar in both the lanthanum carbonate and standard therapy groups. One parameter - Numeric Working Memory - showed a statistically significant between-group difference in favor of lanthanum carbonate (P=0.02). Given the magnitude of the changes, however, and the differences that were observed at baseline between treatment groups, the clinical significance of this difference is doubtful. This study demonstrates that cognitive function deteriorates in hemodialysis patients over a 2-year time period. Use of lanthanum carbonate as a phosphate binder does not adversely affect cognitive function compared with standard therapy.