The imaging studies done on 62 patients hospitalized for acute renal infections were retrospectively reviewed. Thirty-six (58%) had one or more abscesses, 17 (27%) had focal or diffuse acute bacterial nephritis, five (8%) had pyonephrosis, and four (6%) had pyelonephritis. All had prolonged fever (greater than or equal to 72 hours) and leukocytosis. Among 25 patients examined with both ultrasound (US) and computed tomography (CT), US failed to depict three of five (60%) cases of acute bacterial nephritis and seven of 15 (47%) intrarenal and extrarenal abscesses. One renal abscess was misdiagnosed as a tumor at CT. US is not an adequate screening test for detecting lesions that may require invasive therapy. CT is more sensitive for the detection of acute renal inflammatory disease and for defining the extent of disease for planning of radiologic or surgical intervention.