Minimal change disease, the most common cause of idiopathic nephrotic syndrome (INS) in children, has a high relapse rate, with approximately half of patients developing steroid dependency. This study was aimed at determining the predictive risk factors for the development of steroid dependency in children diagnosed with INS. A retrospective study of 123 children with steroid-responsive INS, followed for at least 6 months between December 1974 and December 1999, was conducted. The following parameters were studied as predictors of steroid dependency: age at onset, gender, race, microscopic hematuria at onset, atopy, concomitant upper respiratory tract infections (URTI) during relapses, and days to remission with initial steroid therapy. Of the 91 children who fulfilled the inclusion criteria, 61.5% became steroid dependent. Both univariate and logistic regression analyses revealed that initial remission time of 9 or more days (P=0.02, OR=3.0, 95% CI=1.2-7.9) and concomitant URTI during relapses (P=0.01, OR=3.4, 95% CI=1.3-8.8) were significant predictors of steroid dependency. By identifying those children with predictive factors of steroid dependency, the clinician will be better able to plan the long-term management of these patients and reduce the morbidity seen with the frequent relapses and steroid treatment, in a disease that is otherwise associated with a favorable prognosis.