On the 7 December 1988 an earthquake struck a densely populated region in northern Armenia. Up to 50,000 people were killed and many thousands were seriously injured. At least 385 of these casualties developed acute renal failure secondary to crush syndrome and required dialysis. The Armenian renal unit at Yerevan, in common with units elsewhere, was already overstretched to cope with the dialysis requirements of their patients with chronic renal failure before the earthquake. Most of the patients requiring dialysis were transferred to other hospitals in the USSR but 120 patients remained in Yerevan, the majority at the regional renal unit, overwhelming the resources. We assisted by taking a team of dialysis personnel, equipped with portable haemodialysis machines, to Yerevan. We performed 57 haemodialysis sessions and treated 15 patients, 13 of whom ultimately survived. Valuable lessons were learnt about the medical management of disasters abroad.