Diseases of the kidney are difficult to diagnose and treat. This review summarises the definition, cause, epidemiology and treatment of some of these diseases including chronic kidney disease, diabetic nephropathy, acute kidney injury, kidney cancer, kidney transplantation and polycystic kidney diseases. Numerous studies have adopted a metabolomics approach to uncover new small molecule biomarkers of kidney diseases to improve specificity and sensitivity of diagnosis and to uncover biochemical mechanisms that may elucidate the cause and progression of these diseases. This work includes a description of mass spectrometry-based metabolomics approaches, including some of the currently available tools, and emphasises findings from metabolomics studies of kidney diseases. We have included a varied selection of studies (disease, model, sample number, analytical platform) and focused on metabolites which were commonly reported as discriminating features between kidney disease and a control. These metabolites are likely to be robust indicators of kidney disease processes, and therefore potential biomarkers, warranting further investigation.