Multiple members from every major family of cell adhesion molecules (CAMs) have been implicated in the development, maintenance, or repair of renal tissues and include several isoforms of integrins, cell-bound glycoproteins, cadherins, immunoglobulin cell adhesion molecules, and selectins. In combination, they mediate a variety of cell-basement membrane and cell-cell interactions believed to direct morphogenesis and cell migration and regulate cell growth and apoptosis, in addition to generating a functional barrier for blood filtration and helping manage inflammatory responses in the kidney. The expression of some CAMs is transient during and critical to normal nephrogenesis, varying with specific stages of development, but often ultimately resulting in the constitutive production of other members in mature tissues. While gene-targeting studies have successfully implicated individual CAMs in renal cell functions, e.g. , alpha3beta1 and alpha8beta1 integrins, the loss of others bears no renal phenotype due to redundancy of homologous family members or to the severity of the defect early in embryogenesis. This review summarizes the studies of various CAMs found in normal embryonic or adult kidney, describes their spatiotemporal expression patterns, and discusses their involvement in renal processes.