Furosemide, a potent loop diuretic, is frequently used in different stages of acute kidney injury, but its clinical roles remain uncertain. This review summarises the pharmacology of furosemide, its potential uses and side effects, and the evidence of its efficacy. Furosemide is actively secreted by the proximal tubules into the urine before reaching its site of action at the ascending limb of loop of Henle. It is the urinary concentrations of furosemide that determine its diuretic effect. The severity of acute kidney injury has a significant effect on the diuretic response to furosemide; a good 'urinary response' may be considered as a 'proxy' for having some residual renal function. The current evidence does not suggest that furosemide can reduce mortality in patients with acute kidney injury. In patients with acute lung injury without haemodynamic instability, furosemide may be useful in achieving fluid balance to facilitate mechanical ventilation according to the lung-protective ventilation strategy.