In this review we report data available from the literature on the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and the development of nephrotoxicity in the fetus, neonates and children. Up to the present day, several cases of severe and sometimes irreversible renal insufficiency have been described in neonates exposed to indomethacin prenatally or in the first days of life for treatment of patent ductus arteriosus (PDA). Until now, very few studies have been carried out on alternative treatments for PDA in preterm infants; ibuprofen has been shown to be as effective as indomethacin in closing the ductus in this patient group without affecting renal function. In children, NSAID-induced renal failure is a rare event and is usually reversible after discontinuation of the drug. However, caution should be taken when NSAIDs are administered to individuals with preexisting renal problems or with other potentially nephrotoxic drugs. In these situations, new approaches such as cyclo-oxygenase-2 selective inhibitors or prostanoid receptor selective antagonists could lead to alternative therapies for use in paediatrics.