Renal failure occurring in dogs during experimental acute pancreatitis and the effect on renal function of intravenous injections of ascitic fluid which accumulated during the acute pancreatitis were studied. Five hours after the induction of acute pancreatitis, the accumulation of 200 to 400 ml of ascitic fluid, and an elevation in hematocrit as well as a decreased mean arterial pressure were observed, which suggested hypovolemia due to plasma loss. At the same time, the renal blood flow, glomerular filtration rate, and urinary output decreased significantly. Hypovolemia was observed to be the main cause of renal failure in accordance with previous reports. When the sterile ascitic fluid was injected into healthy dogs, temporary hypotension was observed without changes in the hematocrit. However, the renal blood flow, glomerular filtration rate and urinary output decreased, together with an elevation in renal vascular resistance, even after the hypotension had returned to normal. This study shows that renal failure associated with acute pancreatitis occurred mainly as a direct result of hypovolemia but also that the sterile ascitic fluid contained nephrotoxic substances which were suspected to be unrelated to vasoactive substances or protease. Their removal is therefore necessary for the treatment and prevention of renal failure complicating acute pancreatitis.