Renal failure can be divided into acute kidney injury and chronic kidney disease. Both are common and result in increased patient morbidity and mortality. The etiology is multifactorial and differentiation of acute kidney injury from chronic kidney disease includes clinical evaluation, laboratory tests, and imaging. The main role of imaging is to detect treatable causes of renal failure such as ureteral obstruction or renovascular disease and to evaluate renal size and morphology. Ultrasound is the modality of choice for initial imaging, with duplex Doppler reserved for suspected renal artery stenosis or thrombosis. CT and MRI may be appropriate, particularly for urinary tract obstruction. However, the use of iodinated and gadolinium-based contrast should be evaluated critically depending on specific patient factors and cost-benefit ratio. The American College of Radiology Appropriateness Criteria are evidence-based guidelines for specific clinical conditions that are reviewed annually by a multidisciplinary expert panel. The guideline development and revision include an extensive analysis of current medical literature from peer reviewed journals and the application of well-established methodologies (RAND/UCLA Appropriateness Method and Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation or GRADE) to rate the appropriateness of imaging and treatment procedures for specific clinical scenarios. In those instances where evidence is lacking or equivocal, expert opinion may supplement the available evidence to recommend imaging or treatment.