A 66-year-old woman presented with acute-onset rapid atrial fibrillation and right upper quadrant pain which had appeared 24 h prior to admission. The patient also manifested acute oliguric renal failure (serum creatinine 6.9 mg/dl). Selective renal angiography revealed total occlusion of the right renal artery with normal visualization of the left kidney vasculature. The patient was treated with intra-arterial urokinase and intravenous heparin, with no response. Intravenous administration of the prostacyclin analogue, iloprost, resulted in rapid resolution (within hours) of the oliguric acute renal failure, in spite of the continuing presence of a nonfunctioning right kidney. We conclude that the etiology of the acute renal insult in this patient is probably related to unilateral renal arterial embolization accompanied by arterial spasm of the unaffected kidney. The contralateral vasospasm can be reversed by iloprost, which then leads to a rapid recovery from acute renal failure. We are unaware of prior reports documenting the beneficial effect of iloprost in a clinical setting as described here.