Major consensus conferences held over a decade ago laid the foundations for the current (2004) WHO classification of renal carcinoma. Clear cell, papillary and chromophobe carcinomas account for 85-90% carcinomas seen in routine practice. The remaining 10-15% of carcinomas consist of rare sporadic and hereditary tumors, some of which had been long recognized, but many of which only emerged as distinct entities in the decade leading up to the WHO publication. Collecting-duct carcinoma is a rare, often lethal form of carcinoma. Medullary carcinoma associated with sickle cell trait, has emerged as a distinctive tumor showing some overlapping features with upper tract urothelial carcinoma. Mucinous tubular and spindle-cell carcinoma and tubulocystic carcinoma were earlier considered as patterns of low-grade collecting-duct carcinoma, but are now recognized as separate tumor entities. Carcinomas associated with somatic translocations of TFE3 and TFEB comprise a significant proportion of pediatric renal carcinomas. Oncocytoid renal carcinomas in neuroblastoma survivors was recognized as a unique tumor category in the WHO classification. Renal carcinoma associated with end-stage renal disease is now recognized as having distinct morphological patterns and behavior. In addition there is a group of rare recently described carcinomas, including clear cell papillary carcinoma, oncocytic papillary renal cell carcinoma, follicular renal carcinoma and leiomyomatous renal cell carcinoma. It behooves the surgical pathologist to not only be capable of diagnosing the common forms of renal cancer, but also to be aware of the rare types of renal carcinoma, many of which have emerged in recent years.