Kidney cancer is composed of several bio-histological entities. The most frequent type, clear-cell carcinoma, is not homogenous regarding gene mutations or transcriptomic profiles, but the biologic classifications are not yet mature. Therefore, biologically driven strategies of treatment have not yet been developed in the clinical setting. The choice of first-line agent currently depends on the prognostic criteria published by Motzer et al. [J Clin Oncol 1999;17:2530–2540] and recently by Heng et al. [J Clin Oncol 2009;27:5794–5799], with anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) therapies for good- or intermediate-prognosis groups and anti-mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) for poor-risk patients. In the past years, biological changes leading to resistance to targeted agents have been widely investigated. Discoveries resulted in the development of second-generation VEGF receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitors, characterized by an improved potency and selectivity. Besides, co-inhibition of signalling pathways mediating resistance to anti-VEGF are being developed targeting fibroblast growth factor and c-Met. Dual mTOR/phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase inhibitors have greater efficacy than rapalogs in preclinical models and are being investigated in early clinical trials. In conclusion, the changing landscape in the biology and treatment of kidney cancer offers new opportunities for clinicians to treat patients, but, due to relatively high costs, the use of targeted therapies will likely be strongly controlled by health authorities.

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