Thrice-weekly haemodialysis schedules have become the standard default haemodialysis prescription worldwide. Whereas the measurement of residual renal function is accepted practice for peritoneal dialysis patients and the importance of residual renal function in determining technique success is well established, few centres routinely assess residual renal function in haemodialysis patients. Although intradialytic hypotension and episodes of acute kidney injury may predispose to an earlier loss of residual renal function, a significant proportion of haemodialysis patients maintain some residual function long after dialysis initiation. As such, an incremental approach to the initiation of dialysis with careful monitoring of residual renal function may potentially provide some haemodialysis patients with an improved quality of life and greater preservation of residual renal function whilst fewer dialysis sessions may reduce health care costs. Prospective trials are required to determine the optimum approach to the initiation of haemodialysis for the oliguric patient. Once residual renal function has been lost, then dialysis prescriptions should be re-examined to consider the use of longer or more frequent treatment sessions and switching from low-flux to high-flux dialysis or haemodiafiltration to offset retention of middle sized molecules and protein-bound azotaemic solutes.