The effect of aminoglycosides on renal function was evaluated in 30 full-term infants who were treated within 24 h of birth with either amikacin (10 infants, group A), gentamicin (9 infants, group B), or netilmicin (10 infants, group C). Renal function was assessed before, during, and 48 h after discontinuation of therapy by measuring the plasma creatinine concentration (PCr), the fractional excretion of sodium (FENa), potassium, magnesium, phosphate (FEP), uric acid, and the urinary excretion of calcium (UCA/UCr ratio) immediately before (trough) and after (peak) the infusion of the aminoglycosides. The results were compared with 10 control newborns who did not receive antibiotics. Significant alterations in renal function were observed only during therapy with gentamicin (group B). These consisted of a sustained elevation of FENa and UCa/UCr ratio throughout therapy, a latent increase in FEP on the 7th day (P < 0.05), and lack of the normal postnatal decline of PCr in 3 of 9 infants (P < 0.01). These abnormalities persisted up to 2 days after discontinuation of therapy. Therapeutic doses of gentamicin may result in significant electrolyte disturbances in sick full-term infants.