Renal tubular epithelial cells (RTECs) perform the essential function of maintaining the constancy of body fluid composition and volume. Toxic, inflammatory, or hypoxic-insults to RTECs can cause systemic fluid imbalance, electrolyte abnormalities and metabolic waste accumulation- manifesting as acute kidney injury (AKI), a common disorder associated with adverse long-term sequelae and high mortality. Here we report the results of a kinome-wide RNAi screen for cellular pathways involved in AKI-associated RTEC-dysfunction and cell death. Our screen and validation studies reveal an essential role of Cdkl5-kinase in RTEC cell death. In mouse models, genetic or pharmacological Cdkl5 inhibition mitigates nephrotoxic and ischemia-associated AKI. We propose that Cdkl5 is a stress-responsive kinase that promotes renal injury in part through phosphorylation-dependent suppression of pro-survival transcription regulator Sox9. These findings reveal a surprising non-neuronal function of Cdkl5, identify a pathogenic Cdkl5-Sox9 axis in epithelial cell-death, and support CDKL5 antagonism as a therapeutic approach for AKI.