Introduction NGAL has recently been studied as a biomarker in the diagnostic context of pediatric acute appendicitis (PAA), although existing series are scarce and have limited sample sizes. Materials and methods A prospective observational study was designed to validate serum NGAL as a diagnostic tool in PAA. This study included 215 patients, divided into 3 groups: (1) patients undergoing major outpatient surgery (n = 63), (2) patients with non-surgical abdominal pain in whom a diagnosis of PAA was excluded (n = 53) and (3) patients with a confirmed diagnosis of PAA (n = 99). Patients in group 3 were divided into complicated or uncomplicated appendicitis. In 201 patients, a serum sample was obtained at the time of diagnosis and NGAL concentration was determined by ELISA. The Kolmogorov-Smirnov test was used to assess normality. Comparative statistical analyses were performed using the Mann-Whitney U test, the Kruskal-Wallis test and the Fisher's exact test. To calculate the discriminative ability of the molecule, the area under the receiver-operating characteristic curves (AUC) was calculated. A p value < 0.05 established statistical significance. Results Median (interquartile range) of serum NGAL values were 38.88 (27.15-48.04) ng/mL (group 1), 51.84 (37.33-69.80) ng/mL (group 2) and 65.06 (50.50-86.60) ng/mL (group 3). The AUC (group 2 vs 3) was 0.642 (95% CI 0.542-0.741) (p < 0.001) and the best cutoff point was found to be at 40.97 ng/mL, with a sensitivity of 89% and a specificity of 34.6%. No statistically significant differences in serum NGAL values were found between patients with uncomplicated PAA and those with complicated PAA. Conclusions This prospective validation study with a large sample size confirms that the diagnostic yield of NGAL in the context of PAA is only moderate, and therefore, it should not be used as a unique diagnostic tool. Furthermore, NGAL is not a valid biomarker to discern between uncomplicated and complicated PAA.