Extensive rhabdomyolysis is often lethal unless treated immediately. Early mortality arises from hypovolemic shock, hyperkalemia, acidosis and myoglobinuric acute kidney injury (AKI). Many individuals with rhabdomyolysis could be saved, and myoglobinuric AKI prevented, by early vigorous fluid resuscitation with ≥12 l daily intravenous infusion of alkaline solution started at the scene of injury. This regimen stabilizes the circulation and mobilizes edema fluids sequestered in the injured muscles into the circulation, corrects hyperkalemia and acidosis, and protects against the nephrotoxic effects of myoglobinemia and hyperuricosuria. This regime results in a large positive fluid balance, which is well tolerated in young, carefully monitored individuals. In patients with rhabdomyolysis caused by muscle crush syndrome, mortality has been reduced from nearly 100% to <20% over the past 70 years through utilization of this intervention. This Perspectives discusses the lifesaving and limb-saving potential of early vigorous fluid resuscitation in patients with extensive traumatic and nontraumatic rhabdomyolysis.