Patients with lupus nephritis and severe renal failure progress to end-stage renal disease despite aggressive therapy to suppress immunologic function. Within this group is a small subset presenting with rapid progression of renal failure and requiring dialytic support. We reviewed the clinicopathologic data of four such patients who were able to terminate dialysis after acute renal failure due to lupus nephritis. Three of these patients have remained independent of dialysis up to 4 years, and one patient returned to dialysis 1 month following discontinuation. Although glomerular pathology was variable in the four patients, a lesion common to all at presentation was acute tubular necrosis. It is suggested that tubular necrosis may cause reversible renal failure when part of the nephropathy of disseminated lupus treated with corticosteroids.