Heart failure is a complex syndrome that affects almost all organs and systems of the body. Signs and symptoms of organ dysfunction, in particular kidney dysfunction, may be accentuated or become evident for the first time during acute decompensation of heart failure. Cardiorenal syndrome has been defined as the simultaneous dysfunction of both the heart and the kidney, regardless of which of the two organs may have suffered the initial damage and regardless also of their previous functional status. Research into the mechanisms regulating the complex relationship between the two organs is prompting the search for new biomarkers to help physicians detect renal damage in subclinical stages. Hence, a preventive approach to renal dysfunction may be adopted in the clinical setting in the near future. This article provides a general overview of cardiorenal syndrome and an update of the physiopathological mechanisms involved. Special emphasis is placed on the role of visceral congestion as an emergent mechanism in this syndrome.