the aim of this study was to highlight the meaning of home dialysis as experienced by patients with chronic renal failure. the research design was influenced by ricoeur′s phenomenology. nineteen patients from a brazilian public hospital were interviewed, from may to september 2009. interviews were guided by the question: "tell me about your experiences lived undergoing pd". findings unveiled the patients' perception of the drastic changes in their existence, consequent to disease and treatment; and the perception of themselves in that process. the feeling of anguish, physical pain and deprivations were part of living that condition. they foresee an uncertain future, depending on the expertise of health care providers and the demands on support of significant others. findings suggest that individual aspects of patients' experiences must be considered if health care providers are to facilitate positive health outcomes.