We treated 24 patients who had chronic renal insufficiency and renal osteodystrophy with either calcitriol (1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3) or dihydrotachysterol. Renal function was evaluated before and during treatment to determine if these vitamin D analogues caused an accelerated rate of renal function deterioration. An accelerated rate of increase in the serum creatinine level was found in three of 12 patients in each treatment group after therapy was started, but the mean rate of increase during treatment did not differ significantly from the rate during the pretreatment control period in either group. The occurrence of hypercalcemia or an excessive serum calcium x phosphorus-product did not correlate with the rate of change in renal function during treatment with either drug. We concluded that children receiving calcitriol are not at greater risk for an accelerated rate of renal function deterioration than are children treated with dihydrotachysterol. Furthermore, neither vitamin D analogue could be directly implicated as a cause of an accelerated rate of renal function deterioration when episodes of hypercalcemia were transient and occurred infrequently.