Rationale & objectiveThrice-weekly hemodialysis (HD) is the most common treatment modality for kidney failure in the United States. We conducted a pilot study to assess the feasibility and safety of incremental-start HD in patients beginning maintenance HD.Study designPilot study.Setting & participantsAdults with estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) ≥5 mL/min/1.73 m2 and urine volume ≥500 mL/d beginning maintenance HD at 14 outpatient dialysis units.ExposureRandomized allocation (1:1 ratio) to twice-weekly HD and adjuvant pharmacologic therapy for 6 weeks followed by thrice-weekly HD (incremental HD group) or thrice-weekly HD (conventional HD group).OutcomeThe primary outcome was feasibility. Secondary outcomes included changes in urine volume and solute clearance.ResultsOf 77 patients invited to participate, 51 consented to do so, representing 66% of eligible patients. We randomized 23 patients to the incremental HD group and 25 patients to the conventional HD group. Protocol-based loop diuretics, sodium bicarbonate, and patiromer were prescribed to 100%, 39%, and 17% of patients on twice-weekly HD, respectively. At a mean follow-up of 281.9 days, participant adherence was 96% to the HD schedule (22 of 23 and 24 of 25 in the incremental and conventional groups, respectively) and 100% in both groups to serial timed urine collection. The incidence rate ratio for all-cause hospitalization was 0.31 (95% CI, 0.08-1.17); and 7 deaths were recorded (1 in the incremental and 6 in the conventional group). At week 24, the incremental HD group had lower declines in urine volume (a difference of 51.0 [95% CI, -0.7 to 102.8] percentage points) and in the averaged urea and creatinine clearances (a difference of 57.9 [95% CI, -22.6 to 138.4] percentage points).LimitationsSmall sample size, time-limited twice-weekly HD.ConclusionsIt is feasible to enroll patients beginning maintenance HD into a randomized study of incremental-start HD with adjuvant pharmacotherapy who adhere to the study protocol during follow-up. Larger multicenter clinical trials are indicated to determine the efficacy and safety of incremental HD with longer twice-weekly HD periods.FundingFunding was provided by Vifor Inc.Trial registrationRegistered at ClinicalTrials.gov, identifier NCT03740048.