A classification system has been proposed to standardize the definition of acute kidney injury in adults. These criteria of risk, injury, failure, loss, and end-stage renal disease were given the acronym of RIFLE. We have modified the criteria based on 150 critically ill pediatric RIFLE (pRIFLE) patients to assess acute kidney injury incidence and course along with renal and/or non-renal comorbidities. Of these children, 11 required dialysis and 24 died. Patients without acute kidney injury in the first week of intensive care admission were less likely to subsequently develop renal Injury or Failure; however, 82% of acute kidney injury occurred in this initial week. Within this group of 123 children, 60 reached pRIFLEmax for Risk, 32 reached Injury, and 31 reached Failure. Acute kidney injury during admission was an independent predictor of intensive care; hospital length of stay and an increased risk of death independent of the Pediatric Risk of Mortality (PRISM II) score (odds ratio 3.0). Our results show that a majority of critically ill children develop acute kidney injury by pRIFLE criteria and do so early in the course of intensive care. Acute kidney injury is associated with mortality and may lead to increased hospital costs. We suggest that the pRIFLE criteria serves to characterize the pattern of acute kidney injury in critically ill children.