The purpose of this study was to review the incidence and type of complications associated with the insertion and use of central venous catheters for leukapheresis and high-dose chemotherapy with stem cell rescue. One hundred sixty-seven central venous catheters placed either at the transplant center or by various community surgeons were studied for insertion complications, inability to perform leukapheresis and incidence of infection. The overall incidence of hemo- or pneumothorax was 3.6%. Inability to pherese occurred in 13% of catheters placed by outside surgeons and 6.5% of catheters inserted at the transplant institution. Most often, these were due to malposition of the catheter too high in the superior vena cava or in other veins. Deep venous thrombosis was often related to this malposition and occurred in 4.8% of all patients. Pulmonary embolism was not seen in these patients despite the fact the catheters were often left in place during the thrombotic episode. Early or late-onset infections occurred in 6.5% of patients and were most often exit site infections. The incidence of complications of pheresis catheters is high but might be reduced by more attention to proper placement of the catheter closer to the right atrial/superior vena cava junction, and limiting insertion to a cadre of surgeons familiar with leukapheresis requirements.