Hyperphosphatemia is associated with increased morbidity and mortality in dialysis patients. Oral phosphate binders are necessary to control serum phosphate in patients eating a normal diet and undergoing peritoneal dialysis or thrice weekly hemodialysis. Until recently, none of the available drugs came close to the model of an ideal oral binder, which would demonstrate high affinity, rapid binding regardless of pH, low solubility and absorption, lack of toxicity, palatability, and reasonable cost. Lanthanum carbonate is a safe and effective binder with data demonstrating no toxic effects after continuous exposure up to 6 years. Suggestions that absorption and accumulation of lanthanum is significant and of clinical importance do not stand up to close scrutiny and recommended it as a first line treatment for dialysis patients, particularly if they have evidence of vascular calcification. © Journal compilation 2007 Blackwell Publishing.