Acute renal failure is characterized by an increase in the blood concentration of creatinine and nitrogenous waste products and by the inability of the kidney to appropriately regulate fluid and electrolyte homeostasis. There are many different causes of acute renal failure in children, including prerenal disease, intrinsic renal failure, which includes ischemic hypoxic insults, and obstructive uropathy. This review will focus on hypoxic/ischemic acute renal failure, the most common causes of hospital acquired acute renal failure in children. This review will briefly discuss the epidemiology and incidence of acute renal failure in pediatric patients and review new insights into the pathogenesis of acute renal failure. including hemodynamic alterations induced by alterations in nitric oxide and endothelin metabolism, the role of the inflammatory response, and alteration in polarity in the acute renal failure. The therapy of acute renal failure has changed substantially during the past few years. Controlled trials (in adults) to test the efficacy of "renal dose" dopamine have shown that it is ineffective, and hemofiltration has become increasingly popular as a choice of therapy for acute renal failure.