Hepatocyte growth factor (HGF), a ligand for the c-Met receptor tyrosine kinase, has mitogenic, motogenic, anti-apoptotic, and morphogenic (for example, induction of branching tubulogenesis) activities for renal tubular cells, while it has angiogenic and angioprotective actions for endothelial cells. Stromal cells such as mesangial cells, endothelial cells, and macrophages are sources of renal HGF; thus, HGF mediates epithelial-stromal and endothelial-mesangial interactions in the kidney. In response to acute renal injury, the expression of HGF increases in the injured kidney and in distant intact organs such as the lung and spleen. Locally and systemically increased HGF supports renal regeneration, possibly not only by enhancing cell growth but also by promoting morphogenesis of renal tissue. During progression of chronic renal failure/renal fibrosis, the expression of HGF decreases in a manner reciprocal to the increase in expression of transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta), a key player in tissue fibrosis. A decrease in endogenous HGF, as well as increase in TGF-beta, augments susceptibility to the onset of chronic renal failure/renal fibrosis. On the other hand, supplements of exogenous HGF have preventive and therapeutic effects in cases of acute and chronic renal failure/renal fibrosis in laboratory animals. HGF prevents epithelial cell death and enhances regeneration and remodeling of renal tissue with injury or fibrosis. A renotropic system underlies the vital potential of the kidney to regenerate, while an impaired renotropic system may confer susceptibility to the onset of renal diseases. Thus, HGF supplementation may be one therapeutic strategy to treat subjects with renal diseases, as it enhances the intrinsic ability of the kidney to regenerate.