Knowledge of the human genome has fertilized research in the embryonic field of proteomics. The aim of this Review is to examine the recent application of emerging proteomic technologies to diagnosis of renal disease. We discuss the roles, efficacy and diagnostic potential of different proteomic approaches, focusing on current difficulties and potential solutions. Our rudimentary knowledge of the healthy human urine proteome is described, as are studies that have sought to use the urinary proteome as a tool for diagnosis of renal disease. Vignettes of renal proteome are also presented. The integral role of bioinformatics, and the need for standardized sample preservation and reporting of results, are discussed.