Context: There is increasing evidence for the role of altered metabolism in the pathogenesis of renal cancer. Objective: This review characterizes the metabolic effects of genes and signaling pathways commonly implicated in renal cancer. Evidence acquisition: A systematic review of the literature was performed using PubMed. The search strategy included the following terms: renal cancer, metabolism, HIF, VHL. Evidence synthesis: Significant progress has been made in the understanding of the metabolic derangements present in renal cancer. These findings have been derived through translational, in vitro, and in vivo studies. To date, the most well-characterized metabolic features of renal cancer are linked to von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) loss. VHL loss and the ensuing increase in the expression of hypoxia-inducible factor affect several metabolic pathways, including glycolysis and oxidative phosphorylation. Collectively, these changes promote a glycolytic metabolic phenotype in renal cancer. In addition, other histologic subtypes of renal cancer are also notable for metabolic derangements that are directly related to the causative genes. Conclusions: Current knowledge of the genetics of renal cancer has led to significant understanding of the metabolism of this malignancy. Further studies of the metabolic basis of renal cell carcinoma should provide the foundation for the development of new treatment approaches and development of novel biomarkers. © 2012 European Association of Urology. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.