The first specialized haemodialysis (HD) paediatric centre in former Yugoslavia was established at the University Children's Hospital in Belgrade in January 1980. A total of 194 children (F: 98, M: 96), aged less than 19 years (10.12 +/- 4.23), were treated for renal replacement therapy (RRT) over 20 years. Average annual incidence rate was 1.59 per million of child population (pmcp) aged less than 19 years for the period 1980-1990 (former Yugoslavia) and 2.85 pmcp aged less than 19 years for the period 1990-2000 (present Yugoslavia). Reflux nephropathy was the most frequent underlying disease and accounted for 37.06% of total cases, while other primary renal diseases were: glomerulonephritis (GN) 17.26%, cystic/hereditary familial nephropathy 12.69%, congenital disease 11.68%, interstitial nephritis 5.58%, non-recovered tubular necrosis 3.55%, secondary GN 1.52% and 10.66% remained with doubtful diagnosis. HD was the first RRT in 84.02%, peritoneal dialysis (PD) in 14.43% and pre-emptive transplantation in 1.55% of all patients. A total of 53 patients (27.3% of total terminal renal failure (TRF) patients) received 56 kidney transplants (58.93% live related, 37.50% cadaveric, 3.57% live-non related). Actual survival in RRT was 64.53% 5 in years; 51.68% in 10 and 48.23% in 15 years. Patient survival in HD was significantly better over the last ten-year period than in the first ten-year period (35.88% vs. 75.75%; p < 0.005) as well as the survival of transplanted patients in the same two periods (67.62% vs. 95.45%). Graft survival was 79.85% in 5 and 70.50% in 10 years. Cardiovascular complications were the most common cause of death of patients on RRT (56.10 posto) followed by infection (24.39). On December 31, 1999, 54 patients on RRT were alive less than 19 years: 75.92% in HD; 22.22% with functioning graft and 1.85% on automatic PD. This is the first national-wide long-term study of incidence and aetiology of paediatric TRF and outcome of paediatric RRT in Yugoslavia.