Marine n-3 PUFA may improve autonomic dysfunction by an increase in heart rate variability (HRV) and may reduce the risk of malignant ventricular arrhythmias. Only a few smaller studies have examined such effects in patients on chronic dialysis, who often have autonomic dysfunction and a high risk of sudden cardiac death, which accounts for almost 30 % of all deaths. This cross-sectional study investigated the association between the plasma phospholipid content of n-3 PUFA and 24-h HRV or ventricular arrhythmias in patients on chronic dialysis. A 48-h Holter monitoring was performed on 169 patients on in-centre dialysis (83 %), home haemodialysis (10 %) or peritoneal dialysis (7 %) obtaining data on arrhythmias (n 152) and 24-h HRV (n 135). The mean overall HRV (standard deviation of normal intervals (SDNN)) was low and 71 % had a reduced overall HRV (SDNN<100 ms) indicating autonomic dysfunction. No significant associations between plasma phospholipid content of total marine n-3 PUFA, EPA (22 : 5n-3) or DHA (22 : 6n-3) and time-domain or frequency-domain HRV were detected in crude or adjusted linear regression analysis. However, a higher plasma phospholipid content of DHA was associated with a significantly lower proportion of patients with ventricular tachycardia (higher DHA-tertile: 9 % v. lower DHA-tertile: 28 %, P=0·02). In conclusion, the content of marine n-3 PUFA in plasma phospholipids was not associated with 24-h HRV, but a higher plasma phospholipid content of DHA was associated with a lower occurrence of ventricular tachycardia suggesting an antiarrhythmic effect of marine n-3 PUFA in patients on chronic dialysis.