In 3646 children with at least one confirmed urinary tract infection the prevalence of vesicoureteric reflux at presentation was correlated with progressive renal damage during follow up of not less than two and up to 16 years. Reflux was not demonstrated either at presentation or at any subsequent time in almost one half of the children who suffered progressive renal damage and was not a risk factor for progressive renal damage in boys under 1 year. It was an important risk factor in boys over 1 year and in girls of any age. The risk of progressive renal damage in children in whom micturating cystourethrography (MCU) did not reveal vesicoureteric reflux was substantially greater than in those who indirect isotope voiding study (IVS) did not show reflux. The risk of deterioration for those in whom reflux was demonstrated was similar for both techniques. This discrepancy indicates an appreciably higher false negative rate for the MCU than the IVS. Dilatation of the renal pelvis detected by ultrasound was associated with a significantly increased risk of progressive damage only when associated with reflux, but most children with progressive damage did not have a dilated collecting system at presentation.