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The haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS) is a well recognized cause of acute renal failure in children. Gastrointestinal involvement is common, and may result in rectal bleeding which can be an important presenting symptom. Previous publications have stressed the importance of correct diagnosis to avoid unnecessary surgery. Occasionally serious gastrointestinal complications do occur. We present five children with life-threatening gastrointestinal complications of the HUS and discuss the indications for laparotomy.