Positron emission tomography (PET) has revolutionized cancer imaging. The current workhorse of molecular imaging, fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) PET is used in the majority of malignant tumors with a few exceptions. Renal cell carcinoma (RCC) is one of those exceptions because of its variable uptake of FDG, although this variable uptake may actually be an asset in predicting response to some targeted agents, as will be discussed later. Beyond FDG, there is only scattered information in the literature on the use of PET in RCC. The purpose of this review is to summarize the current status of PET usage in RCC and point out its potentials and future directions. We will start with a brief overview of the demographics, molecular pathogenesis, and evolving treatment strategies in RCC because this information is essential for better understanding of uptake of various PET radiotracers in this cancer and their indications. This will be followed by discussing the role of PET in characterization of indeterminate renal masses, in staging and restaging of RCC, and, finally, in predicting and monitoring therapy response. Each of these 3 areas of PET usage will include the relevant radiotracers currently in use or in development.