The prevalence of kidney stones has steadily risen during this century; passage of a calculus and a positive family history increase the probability of recurrence. Findings from recent studies on the cause of renal calculi have stressed crystallization and crystal aggregation of stone minerals from supersaturated urine, rather than excessive organic matrix. Absence of normal urine inhibitors of calcium salts is also stressed. Formation of calcium oxalate stones is the major problem. Therapy with decreased calcium and oxalate intake, thiazides, phosphate salts and allopurinol in various combinations has substantially decreased the prevalence of recurrent stones. The rationale for the use of allopurinol is that uric acid salts enhance the tendency for calcium oxalate to crystallize from supersaturated urine. The hypercalciuria seen in 30 percent to 40 percent of patients with oxalate stones is usually caused by intestinal hyperabsorption of calcium. Although patients with uric acid calculi constitute only a small fraction of those in whom stones form, they represent a group in whom good medical therapy, based on sound physiologic principles, has proved extremely successful. Renal tubular syndromes lead to nephrocalcinosis and lithiasis through hypercalciuria, alkaline urine and hypocitraturia, the latter an inhibitor of calcium salt precipitation. Recent advances in surgical techniques are discussed, including the rationale for removing staghorn calculi. The ileal ureter and coagulum pyelolithotomy deserve special emphasis.