Background: Significant progress has been made in the field of renal replacement therapy for critically ill patients with acute renal failure (ARF) over the past few years. This review highlights these developments. Methods: Recent studies assessing the clinical utility of the RIFLE classification system for the diagnosis of ARF were reviewed. Clinical outcome studies evaluating the effect of continuous renal replacement therapy (CRRT) dose and timing of initiation were assessed. The final review topic was the effect of dialysis modality on the recovery of renal function in ARF patients. Conclusions: Based on recent clinical studies, the increasing use of the RIFLE criteria is justified, as this approach appears to be a robust method for both the diagnosis of and prognostication in ARF. A large randomized trial involving convective CRRT supports the commonly used prescription of 35 ml/ kg/h in clinical practice. Moreover, numerous recent outcome studies, also largely involving convective CRRT, provide a clinical rationale for the increasingly common clinical practice of earlier initiation. Finally, several recent studies suggest CRRT, relative to conventional hemodialysis, results in a greater rate of renal recovery in ARF patients.