Background and objectives: Concentrated heparin solutions are instilled into the catheter lumens after each hemodialysis session to prevent catheter thrombosis. The heparin lock concentration at many centers has been decreased recently to reduce the risk of systemic bleeding and contain costs. However, the effect of this change on catheter patency is unknown. We compared catheter patency between two heparin lock solutions: 1000 versus 5000 units/ml. Design, setting, participants, & measurements: With use of a prospective, computerized, vascular access database, 105 patients with newly placed tunneled hemodialysis catheters, including 58 patients receiving a 5000 units/ml heparin lock and 47 patients receiving a 1000 units/ml heparin lock, were retrospectively identified. The primary endpoint was cumulative catheter patency and the secondary endpoint was frequency of thrombolytic instillation. Results: Cumulative catheter survival was similar in the two groups, being 71% versus 73% at 120 days in the low- and high-concentration heparin lock groups (hazard ratio of catheter failure, 0.97; 95% confidence interval, 0.45 to 2.09; P = 0.95). The frequency of tissue plasminogen activator instillation was significantly greater in the low-concentration heparin group (hazard ratio, 2.18; 95% CI, 1.26 to 3.86; P = 0.005). No major bleeding complications were observed in either treatment group. The overall drug cost for maintaining catheter patency was 23% lower with the low-concentration heparin lock ($1418 versus $1917) to maintain catheter patency for 1000 days. Conclusions: Low-concentration heparin lock solutions do not decrease cumulative dialysis catheter patency, but require a twofold increase in thrombolytic instillation to maintain long-term patency. Copyright © 2010 by the American Society of Nephrology.