Contrast-induced nephropathy (CIN) is reversible acute renal failure observed following administration of iodinated contrast media (CM) during angiographic or other medical procedures such as urography. There are various mechanisms through which CM develop their nephrotoxic effects, including oxidative stress and apoptosis. CIN is a real-life, albeit not very rare, entity. Exact pathophysiology remains obscure and no standard diagnostic criteria apply. The Acute Kidney Injury Network criteria was recently employed but its incidence/clinical significance warrants further clarification based on recent methodological advancements, because most published studies to date were contaminated by bias. The current study is a comprehensive review conducted to provide an overview of the basic concepts of CIN and summarize recent knowledge on its pathophysiology and the evidence supporting potential prevention strategies. CIN is expected to increase morbidity, hospital stay and mortality, while all patients scheduled to receive CM should undergo risk assessment for CIN and high-risk patients may be considered candidates for prevention strategies. The value of using compounds with antioxidant properties other than sodium bicarbonate, remains controversial, warranting further clinical investigation.