Focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) describes both a common lesion in progressive kidney disease, and a disease characterized by marked proteinuria and podocyte injury. The initial injuries vary widely. Monogenetic forms of FSGS are largely due to alterations in structural genes of the podocyte, many of which result in early onset of disease. Genetic risk alleles in apolipoprotein L1 are especially prevalent in African Americans, and are linked not only to adult-onset FSGS but also to progression of some other kidney diseases. The recurrence of FSGS in some transplant recipients whose end-stage renal disease was caused by FSGS points to circulating factors in disease pathogenesis, which remain incompletely understood. In addition, infection, drug use, and secondary maladaptive responses after loss of nephrons from any cause may also cause FSGS. Varying phenotypes of the sclerosis are also manifest, with varying prognosis. The so-called tip lesion has the best prognosis, whereas the collapsing type of FSGS has the worst prognosis. New insights into glomerular cell injury response and repair may pave the way for possible therapeutic strategies.