Background: Renal cell therapy in conjunction with continuous hemofiltration techniques may provide important cellular metabolic activities to patients with acute renal failure (ARF) and may thereby change the natural history of this disorder. The development of a tissue-engineered bioartificial kidney consisting of a conventional hemofiltration cartridge in series with a renal tubule assist device (RAD) containing 10<sup>9</sup> human renal proximal tubule cells provides an opportunity to evaluate this form of therapy in patients with ARF in the intensive care unit. Methods: Nine patients with ARF and multi-organ systems failure (MOSF) have been treated so far with a tissue-engineered kidney in an FDA-approved Phase I/II clinical study currently underway. Acute physiologic parameters and serum cytokine levels were assessed before, during and after treatment with a bioartificial kidney. Results: Use of the RAD in this clinical setting demonstrates maintenance of cell viability and functionality. Cardiovascular stability appears to be maintained during RAD treatment. Human tubule cells in the RAD demonstrated differentiated metabolic and endocrinologic activity. Acute physiologic and plasma cytokine data demonstrate that renal cell therapy is associated with rapid and variable responses in patients with ARF and MOSF. Conclusion: The initial clinical experience with the bioartificial kidney and the RAD suggests that renal tubule cell therapy may provide a dynamic and individualized treatment program as assessed by acute physiologic and biochemical indices.