INTRODUCTION Acute liver failure is rare in pediatric patients and is one of the most challenging medical emergencies due to its prognostic and therapeutic implications. The best scientific evidence worldwide comes from multicenter studies in developed countries. In Cuba, there are no prior studies of this disorder in children. OBJECTIVES Describe the main clinical features of Cuban children treated at a national referral center for acute liver failure, as defined by recognized diagnostic criteria for pediatric patients. METHODS A case series study was conducted comprising patients diagnosed with acute liver failure treated from 2005 to 2011 in the hepatology and liver transplant service at Havana’s William Soler University Children’s Hospital. Variables were age group, etiology of acute liver failure, grade of hepatic encephalopathy, blood chemistry variables, and clinical outcome (whether or not spontaneous recovery of liver function occurred). Associations between variables were assessed using contingency tables, and case fatality was calculated, as well as relative risk with its 95% confidence interval. The Mann-Whitney U test was used to compare means of laboratory test results. RESULTS Median age of the 31 patients studied (14 boys and 17 girls) was 24 months (range 1–180). Time between symptom onset and diagnosis of acute liver failure was 25.1 days (SD 16.8). Infection was the most common etiology, present in 61.3% of cases (19/31); nonhepatotropic viruses, especially cytomegalovirus, predominated in infants. Spontaneous recovery occurred in 15 patients (48.4%), 3 (9.7%) received transplants, and 13 died, for a case fatality of 41.9%. Outcome was not associated with etiology (p = 0.106), but was statistically associated with degree of hepatic encephalopathy (p <0.01): 77.8% of patients (7/9) with grades III-IV encephalopathy died, for a relative risk of 4.0 (95% CI 1.15–13.8), versus 11.1% (1/9) with grade II or less encephalopathy. Cholesterol levels were significantly lower in patients who failed to recover spontaneously (p <0.01). CONCLUSIONS Patients’ clinical characteristics in this case series were similar to those described in developed countries.The fact that nonhepatotropic viruses (basically, cytomegalovirus in infants) are the main cause of acute liver failure in Cuban children calls for further epidemiologic study and identification of local underlying determinants of this phenomenon.