Cisplatin remains a major antineoplastic drug for the treatment of solid tumors. Its chief dose-limiting side effect is nephrotoxicity, which evolves slowly and predictably after initial and repeated exposure. The kidney accumulates cisplatin to a higher degree than other organs perhaps via mediated transport. Functionally, reduced renal perfusion and a concentrating defect characterize its nephrotoxicity, whereas morphologically necrosis of the terminal portion of the proximal tubule and apoptosis predominantly in the distal nephron characterize its effects on cell fate. Among the earliest reactions of the kidney to cisplatin is the activation of the MAPK cascade and molecular responses typical of the stress response. Repression of genes characteristic of the mature phenotype of the kidney, especially those serving transport function of the kidney, is also prominent. Metabolic responses, cell cycle events and the inflammatory cascade seem to be important determinants of the degree of renal failure induced by cisplatin. Manipulation of these responses may be exploited to reduce its toxicity clinically.