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To compare the acute effects of 0.9% saline versus a balanced electrolyte solution on acute kidney injury in a rat model of sepsis.Controlled laboratory experiment.University laboratory.Sixty adult, male Sprague-Dawley rats.We induced sepsis by cecal ligation and puncture and randomized animals to receive fluid resuscitation with either 0.9% saline or Plasma-Lyte solution for 4 hours after 18 hours of cecal ligation and puncture (10 mL/kg in the first hour and 5 mL/kg in the next 3 hr). Blood and urine specimens were obtained from baseline, 18 hours after cecal ligation and puncture, immediately after 4 hours fluid resuscitation, and 24 hours later. We measured blood gas, plasma electrolytes, creatinine, interleukin-6, cystatin C, and neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin concentrations. We also analyzed urine for cystatin C and neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin. We used Risk, Injury, Failure, Loss and End-stage criteria for creatinine to assess severity of acute kidney injury. We observed all animals for survival up to 1 day after resuscitation. Surviving animals were killed for kidney histology. Finally, we carried out an identical study in 12 healthy animals.Compared with Plasma-Lyte, 0.9% saline resuscitation resulted in significantly greater blood chloride concentrations (p < 0.05) and significantly decreased pH and base excess. Acute kidney injury severity measured by RIFLE criteria was increased with 0.9% saline compared with Plasma-Lyte resuscitation (p < 0.05), and these results were consistent with kidney histology and biomarkers of acute kidney injury. Twenty-four-hour survival favored Plasma-Lyte resuscitation (76.6% vs 53.3%; p = 0.03). Finally, in healthy animals, we found no differences between fluids and no evidence of acute kidney injury.Volume resuscitation with Plasma-Lyte resulted in less acidosis and less kidney injury and improved short-term survival when compared with 0.9% saline in this experimental animal model of sepsis.