The immune system is an important guardian of tissue homeostasis. In response to injury, resident and infiltrating immune cells orchestrate all phases of danger control, resolution of inflammation and tissue regeneration or scar formation. As mammalian postnatal kidneys are not capable of de novo nephrogenesis, recovery is limited to the regeneration or repair of existing nephrons. The regenerative capacity of the nephron varies between compartments; the epithelial cells of the tubule regenerate more efficiently than the structurally highly organized podocytes. Cells of the surrounding environment modulate nephron regeneration by secreting paracrine mediators. This Review discusses immune mediators and pathways that regulate the intrinsic regenerative capacity of the nephron. Eliminating injurious triggers, modulating renal inflammation and specifically enhancing the regenerative capacity of nephrons might be a promising strategy to improve long-term outcomes in patients with acute kidney injury and/or chronic kidney disease.