Vascular access dysfunction is one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality among end-stage renal disease patients. Vascular access dysfunction exists in all three types of available accesses: arteriovenous fistulas, arteriovenous grafts, and tunneled catheters. To improve clinical research and outcomes in hemodialysis (HD) access dysfunction, the development of a multidisciplinary network of collaborative investigators with various areas of expertise, and common standards for terminology and classification in all vascular access types, is required. The North American Vascular Access Consortium (NAVAC) is a newly formed multidisciplinary and multicenter network of experts in the area of HD vascular access, who include nephrologists and interventional nephrologists from the United States and Canada with: (1) a primary clinical and research focus in HD vascular access dysfunction, (2) national and internationally recognized experts in vascular access, and (3) a history of productivity measured by peer-reviewed publications and funding among members of this consortium. The consortium's mission is to improve the quality and efficiency in vascular access research, and impact the research in the area of HD vascular access by conducting observational studies and randomized controlled trials. The purpose of the consortium's initial manuscript is to provide working and standard vascular access definitions relating to (1) epidemiology, (2) vascular access function, (3) vascular access patency, and (4) complications in vascular accesses relating to each of the vascular access types. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.