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Although renal replacement therapy is the mainstay of supportive care in patients with severe acute renal failure, its performance can have untoward effects that contribute to the prolongation of renal failure or impede the ultimate recovery of renal function. In this review, we categorize the major complications associated with renal replacement therapy and assess their impact on recovery of renal function.The major mechanisms by which renal replacement therapy is postulated to delay renal recovery include treatment-associated hemodynamic instability, vascular catheter-related bacteremia and sepsis, and cytokine activation by bioincompatible membranes. Clinical data regarding the role of dialysis catheter infections in delay of renal recovery are lacking. The data regarding the role of membrane biocompatibility and the modality and dose of renal replacement therapy are limited and conflicting.Clinical recommendations must be limited to the broad admonishment that complications during renal replacement therapy, including hemodynamic instability and catheter-related bacteremia, be minimized by using best clinical practices, while recognizing that the impact of specific practices on recovery of renal function have not been evaluated. The data do not support recommendations regarding utilization of specific membranes or the modality or dose of renal replacement therapy on the basis of their impact on recovery of renal function.