This study reviewed the 18-year experience of acute dialysis in the pediatric intensive care unit, in order to identify factors that could predict outcome, and to determine whether newer modalities of acute dialysis have influenced this outcome. Sixty-six children (ages 1 day to 19 years) received acute dialysis from May 1980 to April 1998. Factors predicting outcome were analyzed using univariate and Cox regression analysis. Modality of dialysis in the first 15 years was exclusively peritoneal dialysis. with a mortality of 63.9%. However, in the last 3 years, with increasing patient numbers, continuous hemodiafiltration (CHDF) was the modality of choice (56.7%), with a mortality of 73.3%. Univariate analysis showed that age <1 year, coma, acute tubular necrosis, disseminated intravascular coagulopathy, assisted ventilation, and hypotension were associated significantly with poor outcome (P<0.05). Cox regression analysis revealed that mortality was significantly higher in patients on mechanical ventilation (RR 5.96, 95% CI 1.82-19.50), or with age <1 year (RR 2.00, 95% CI 1.08-3.73). In conclusion, despite the increasing use of CHDF over the last 3 years, there was no significant improvement in mortality, probably related to the fact that more critically ill patients were dialyzed.