Just two and a half decades ago adult renal cell neoplasms, i.e., those arising from the renal tubules or collecting duct epithelium, were subdivided into two major subtypes: "clear cell carcinoma" and "granular cell carcinoma." Subsequent detailed morphologic and/or cytogenetic studies have resulted in the recognition of several distinctive subtypes of adult renal epithelial neoplasms, which has led to the promulgation of a refined contemporary histologic classification of these tumors. This study examines the prognostic significance of histologic subtyping in accordance with the new classification in a consecutive series of 405 cases treated at a single institution. Cases were histologically classified into 28 (7%) benign tumors [27 (6.7%) renal oncocytomas, 1 (0.2%) metanephric adenoma] and 377 (93%) malignant tumors [255 (63%) conventional (clear cell) renal cell carcinoma, 75 (18.5%) papillary renal cell carcinoma, 24 (5.9%) chromophobe renal cell carcinoma, and 23 (5.7%) renal cell carcinoma, unclassified]. A total of 25 (6.6%) malignant tumors showed evidence of sarcomatoid change. Kaplan-Meier survival analysis with log-rank test showed histologic type (p = 0.002), Fuhrman's nuclear grade (p = 0.001), TNM stage (p = 0.001), vascular invasion (p = 0.001), and necrosis (p = 0.001) to be significantly associated with disease-specific survival and progression-free survival, based on follow-up of 368 patients (mean 64.5 months, median 56 months). The 5-year disease-specific survival for chromophobe renal cell carcinoma, papillary renal cell carcinoma, conventional (clear cell) renal cell carcinoma, and renal cell carcinoma, unclassified was 100%, 86%, 76%, and 24%, respectively; no patient with a benign tumor diagnosis progressed or died of disease. The 5-year progression-free survival for chromophobe renal cell carcinoma, papillary renal cell carcinoma, conventional (clear cell) renal cell carcinoma, and renal cell carcinoma, unclassified was 94%, 88%, 70%, and 18%, respectively. Malignant tumors with sarcomatoid change had a 35% and 27%, 5-year disease-specific and progression-free survival, respectively. Cox proportional hazards regression analysis showed TNM stage (p = 0.001), nuclear grade (p = 0.01), and necrosis (p = 0.05) to be significant predictors of disease-specific survival. In conclusion, our study shows that the histologic categorization of adult renal epithelial neoplasms performed by routine light microscopic hematoxylin and eosin-based examination in accordance with the contemporary classification scheme has prognostic utility.