We report a case of severe metabolic acidosis associated with acute renal failure and septicaemia following treatment with maximal therapeutic doses of metformin and diclofenac. On the second day of intensive care the patient deteriorated with respiratory insufficiency and abdominal pain during continuous renal replacement therapy. A laparoscopy revealed a perforated cholecystitis with abscess formation. The patient regained renal function and recovered. Intake of diclofenac 5 days before this episode could have been the main cause of renal insufficiency and metabolic acidosis in this patient and could also have delayed surgical treatment by masking early clinical signs of perforated cholecystitis. The renal failure may also have caused metformin and lactate to accumulate, contributing to the mixed pattern of metabolic acidosis. This case report describes a mixed organic and non-organic metabolic acidosis associated with acute renal failure, presumably resulting from a combination of drugs and diseases often found in the elderly - metformin for diabetes mellitus and a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug for cholecystolithiasis. Acid-base balance and electrolyte changes were rapidly normalized by continuous renal replacement therapy.