We analyzed 25 cases of multicystic kidney to assess the impact of prenatal diagnosis on the management of this condition. The incidence of unilateral multicystic kidney was 1 in 4,300 live births. Of the 23 children with unilateral multicystic kidneys only 3 (13 per cent) had a readily palpable lesion. These findings suggest that multicystic kidney is a more common renal anomaly than was previously recognized and that the majority of cases remained undiagnosed before the advent of prenatal diagnosis. Ultrasound re-evaluation in 11 children suggests that the natural history of multicystic kidneys is towards spontaneous involution. Two kidneys were not identifiable by followup ultrasound. Hypertension and malignancy complicating multicystic kidney are reported infrequently. The literature on hypertension does not generally support the view that multicystic kidney poses a significant risk of hypertension in later childhood or adult life. We believe that the routine removal of multicystic kidneys in infancy is no longer appropriate.