Rhabdomyolysis, myoglobinuria and acute renal failure are rare complication of surgery. Long operative time, increased body mass, lateral decubitus positioning and extracellular volume depletion may predispose to this condition. The authors describe the case of a 70-year-old man with renal cell carcinoma who underwent a laparoscopic right radical nephrectomy in the lateral decubitus position. His postoperative course was complicated by acute renal failure due to rhabdomyolysis. Heightened awareness, early recognition and treatment of this condition are important, particularly as laparoscopic nephrectomy is becoming a common procedure for living donor transplantation.