Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPARs) are members of the nuclear hormone receptor superfamily of ligand-dependent transcription factors. Three isoforms of PPAR, i.e., PPAR-a, -d, and -?, have been identified and are differentially expressed in various tissues, including the kidney. The target genes of PPARs are involved in diverse biological processes, including adipogenesis, lipid metabolism, insulin sensitivity, inflammatory response, reproduction, and cell growth and differentiation. PPARs have been reported to protect against renal injury through indirect systemic effects and/or direct renal effects in diabetic nephropathy, glomerulonephritis, renal cell carcinoma, acute renal failure and chronic renal disease. In this review, we summarize the role of the three identified PPAR isoforms, PPARa, -d, and -?, in renal physiology and discuss the renoprotective effects of PPAR ligands in various kidney diseases.