Conservative management of multicystic dysplastic kidney (MCDK) without nephrectomy has recently been advocated. The purpose of this study was to determine the clinical course of conservatively managed unilateral MCDK detected prenatally. Between 1991 and 2001, ten children (three boys and seven girls) with unilateral MCDK detected by prenatal ultrasonography (US) were prospectively followed at our institution. At birth, US confirmed the prenatal findings in all cases. All patients underwent voiding cystourethrography, intravenous pyelography, and radionuclide scans. Postnatal follow-up US examinations were performed every 3 months until patients were 5 years old and annually from then forward. The mean age at diagnosis during the prenatal period was 29 weeks of gestation (range 21-38 weeks). Median follow-up time was 42 months (range 17-125 months). Follow-up US was performed in eight children; three (38%) showed partial resolution, three (38%) complete resolution, and two (24%) no change in cyst size. The mean age at complete resolution of the lesion was 23 months (range 9-33 months). No children developed hypertension or tumors, and all maintained normal growth. In the present study, the natural history of MCDK was benign, and serial US monitoring showed that the affected kidneys frequently showed resolution with time. The results of this study support the conclusion that a nonsurgical approach for patients with MCDK is advisable.