Treatment of advanced renal cancer has made little progress in the past 30 yr. Most clinical efforts have incorporated cytokine-based therapy. The presumption has been that the cytokines may trigger a host immune response against the renal cancer. Only IFN-alpha and high-dose IL-2 seemed to have positive effects on patient outcomes. IFN has prolonged the lives of patients by a few months, and high-dose IL-2 is capable of inducing very prolonged remissions (>5 yr) for a small number of patients. Nephrectomy in the presence of metastatic disease has been established as an effective procedure for select patients, providing palliation and prolonging survival. Finally, enthusiasm has focused on the use of nonmyeloablative allogeneic stem cell transplantation and donor leukocyte infusion for the induction of graft versus tumor effects. Early results are both provocative and promising. A number of agents that target the critical gene products downstream from pVHL and hypoxia-inducible factor-1, such as vascular endothelial growth factor, PDGF, EGF receptor, and TGF-alpha, have recently become available. The new agents are capable of inhibiting specific cellular targets, and the biologic characteristics of clear cell carcinoma of the kidney support their application. If the correct targets are carefully selected for inhibition in tumors in which the targets are present (clear cell histologic features and loss of VHL expression), then results should resemble those others have observed with targeted therapy, such as the use of STI-571 (Gleevec; Novartis Pharmaceuticals, East Hanover, NJ) for treatment of chronic myelogenous leukemia and gastrointestinal stromal tumors or anti-HER2/neu (Herceptin; Genentech, South San Francisco, CA) for treatment of breast cancer.