The most common cystic lesion recognized antenatally is multicystic dysplastic kidney (MCDK). Recently, conservative management without nephrectomy has been advocated. The purpose of this study was to report our experience in the conservative management of unilateral MCDK. Between 1989 and 1997, 20 children with MCDK detected by prenatal ultrasonography (US) were prospectively followed. At birth, US confirmed the prenatal findings in all cases. All patients were submitted to radioisotope scans and a micturating cystogram. Follow-up US examinations were performed annually. Mean age at diagnosis during the prenatal period was 31 weeks of gestation (range 24-38). Median follow-up time was 33 months (range 7-91). Follow-up US was performed in 19 children; 13 (68%) showed partial involution, 4 (21%) complete involution, and 2 (11%) an increase in unit size. The mean age at complete or partial involution of the lesion was 18 months. No children developed hypertension or tumors, and all maintained normal growth. In conclusion, the natural history of MCDK is usually benign, and serial US examinations show that affected kidneys frequently show involution with time.