Atherosclerotic renovascular disease (ARVD) is a disease of ageing. It is usually a manifestation of widespread vascular disease and although it may be symptomless, many patients with ARVD present with the effects of extra-renal vascular disease, such as peripheral vascular (PVD), coronary heart (CHD) and cerebrovascular disease. ARVD is a common cause of hypertension and chronic renal failure (CRF), and it is one of the most common renal diagnoses in elderly patients accepted on to dialysis programmes with end-stage renal failure (ESRF). The cause of renal impairment in these patients is still a matter of debate. Patients with ARVD have a high mortality, especially those with renal failure. In this review we examine the relationships between ARVD and co-morbid extra-renal vascular disease, and the impact of these associated vascular pathologies upon renal functional and mortality outcomes is considered. The latest evidence concerning the likely pathogenesis of renal dysfunction in patients with ARVD is also reviewed.