This chapter describes the earlier stages of development of the vertebrate metanephric kidney. It focuses on the mouse and descriptive morphology is used for considering both molecular mechanisms, underpinning kidney morphogenesis and differentiation, and the ways in which these processes can go awry and lead to congenital kidney disorders—particularly in humans. The mature kidney is a fairly complex organ attached to an arterial input vessel and two output vessels, the vein and the ureter. Inside, the artery and vein are connected by a complex network of capillaries that invade a large number of glomeruli, the proximal entrance to nephrons, which are filtration units that link to an arborized collecting-duct system that drains into the ureter. The ability of the kidney and isolated metanephrogenic mesenchyme, to develop in culture means that the developing tissues can be subjected to a wide variety of experimental procedures designed to investigate their molecular and cellular properties and to test hypotheses about developmental mechanisms.