Renal function and changes in the activity of selected vasoactive hormones during prolonged indomethacin therapy (1 week) were studied in 11 very-low-birth-weight infants with symptomatic patent ductus arteriosus. The initiation of indomethacin therapy was associated with a reduction in diuresis, a transient decrease in creatinine clearance, and an increase in body weight (P less than 0.01). Furthermore, there was a transient trend toward hyponatremia and hyperkalemia. This acute renal dysfunction was compatible with a complex picture of renal hypoperfusion associated with a fall of plasma renin activity from high levels prior to indomethacin treatment, with a transient rise in the plasma level of arginine vasopressin and with suppressed renal and systemic prostaglandin synthesis. During treatment, an effective circulatory volume was restored by closing the ductus. In parallel, PRA and AVP plasma concentrations returned to nearly normal values. Subsequently, kidney function was not further impaired despite continued indomethacin therapy. These observations suggest that prolonged indomethacin therapy for prevention of sPDA relapse probably constitutes no further risk to kidney function after successful pharmacologically induced ductal constriction.