This was a retrospective study to assess the clinical profile of children admitted with acute renal failure and to identify factors associated with poor outcome. Fifty-four children (age one month to 12 years) with acute renal failure were studied. Males outnumbered females (38/54; 70%). The leading precipitating causes for renal failure were acute gastro-enteritis (85%), underlying renal pathology (43%), proven sepsis (22%) and suspected sepsis (22%). The main presenting complaints were diarrhoea (86%),oliguria (72%), rapid respiration (37%), oedema (37%), vomiting (19%) and seizures (13%). All patients underwent standard investigations and treatment. Forty-eight per cent of patients required peritoneal dialysis and 15% required ventilation. The overall mortality was 52%. Underlying renal pathology and sepsis both contributed to the high morbidity and mortality. Mortality due to sepsis was 83%; it was 65% in dialysed patients and 100% in those requiring ventilatory support. Biochemical profile of the above patients showed that hyperkalaemia was significantly associated with high mortality (83%) as against 75% in those with hypokalaemia and 33% with normal levels (p<0.001). Patients with hyponatraemia and hypernatraemia similarly had an adverse outcome. Acidosis, seen in 20 patients, had a mortality of 45%. The outcome was poorer in those with high creatinine levels (63%).