The kidney has the capacity to recover from ischemic and toxic insults. Although there has been debate about the origin of cells that replace injured epithelial cells, it is now widely recognized that intrinsic surviving tubular cells are responsible for the repair. On the other hand, the cells, which have stem cell–like characteristics, have been isolated in the kidney using various methods, but it remains unknown if these stem cells actually exist in the adult kidney and if they are involved in kidney regeneration. This review will focus on the pathophysiology of kidney regeneration and the contribution of renal stem cells. We also discuss possible therapeutic applications to kidney disease. Anat Rec, 297:129–136. 2014. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.