The significance of acute renal failure (ARF) for patients treated with a ventricular assist device (VAD) is uncertain. There is little information on the outcome of patients who require renal replacement therapy during treatment with a VAD. A retrospective review was undertaken to evaluate the impact of renal failure requiring renal replacement therapy on such patients. Studied were 227 patients who were supplied with a VAD at the German Heart Institute Berlin. Fifty-five patients required renal replacement therapy during treatment with a VAD. These were compared with patients not needing renal replacement therapy (ARF and non-ARF groups). Significant differences for the end points of survival, heart transplantation, and discharge from hospital were observed in patients with ARF (p < 0.01). Survival was then analyzed according to indications for treatment with a VAD (bridge to transplantation or cardiac recovery after cardiotomy, transplantation, myocardial infarction, myocarditis, and endocarditis). Survival for bridge-to-transplantation patients was clearly influenced in a negative way by ARF (p < 0.01). For cardiac recovery patients, only a small difference in survival was observed (p = 0.05). We conclude that ARF is a negative predictor for bridge-to-transplantation patients. For cardiac recovery patients the impact of ARF on survival is marginally significant.