Clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC) has been associated with one of the highest mortality rates among all cancers. Fatty acid binding proteins (FABPs) are 14-15 kDa proteins that are highly abundant in the cytosol of most tissues. FABP5, a member of the FABP family, has been observed to promote tumor cell growth in numerous cancer types. In order to investigate the function of FABP5 in ccRCC cells in the present study, RNA sequencing data from The Cancer Genome Atlas were analyzed to determine the expression levels of FABP5 in ccRCC patient samples. Survival and Cox regression analyses were performed to measure the association between FABP5 expression and clinicopathological features of patients with ccRCC. Subsequent in vitro experiments downregulated or overexpressed FABP5 in Caki-1 and 786O ccRCC cells using lentiviral vectors to evaluate cell proliferation ability, and a xenograft transplantation model was established to examine the effect of FABP5 on tumorigenesis in vivo. The results demonstrated that FABP5 expression was significantly upregulated in samples from patients with ccRCC when compared with normal tissue samples. High FABP5 expression was also significantly correlated with tumor and metastasis classifications and predicted poor survival in patients with ccRCC. In ccRCC cells, silencing of FABP5 significantly inhibited cell proliferation, while overexpression of FABP5 promoted cell proliferation when compared to the respective controls. In addition, treatment with the phosphatidylinositol-4,5-bisphosphate 3-kinase (PI3K)/AKT inhibitor, LY294002, attenuated the pro-proliferative effects of exogenous FABP5 expression in Caki-1 and 786O cells. This indicated that the PI3K/AKT signaling pathway may be partially involved in the FABP5-mediated increase in ccRCC cell proliferation. Furthermore, FABP5 was observed to regulate tumor growth in nude mice in vivo. In conclusion, the results of the present study suggest that FABP5 may exert a pro-proliferative role in ccRCC and may be associated with malignant progression and tumorigenesis.