Acute renal failure in children can have a variety of causes. There have been several epidemics of acute renal failure affecting predominantly young children where the cause has been diethylene glycol (DEG) poisoning. These children have presented with gastrointestinal bleeding, seizures and liver failure as well as renal failure. The poisoning has been the result of either contamination of the medicinal products by DEG or the deliberate illegal use of DEG as a solvent. More than 300 children worldwide have died from DEG poisoning. Health professionals need to be aware of the clinical presentation of DEG poisoning as prompt action is likely to save lives by the removal of the contaminated/illegal medicine from pharmacies and shops in the affected area.