Following the collapse of a building, seven subjects (aged 18 to 41 years) were released from under the rubble within one to 28 hours. All seven suffered from extensive crush injuries with evidence of severe rhabdomyolysis and were treated by the induction of an alkaline solute diuresis immediately on their extrication from the debris. The leakage of muscle constitutents was estimated by quantifying the net total body potassium losses, which averaged 395 mEq (SD, +/- 198) over the first 60 hours of therapy. In the past, injuries of similar severity have been associated with a high incidence of acute renal failure and a high mortality rate, yet none of our patients had azotemia or renal failure. We attribute this success to the unprecedented early institution of appropriate therapy.