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To review the evidence related to cytoreductive nephrectomy in metastatic renal cell carcinoma (mRCC) treated in the targeted therapy era, with a focus on observational studies and randomized trials.A number of retrospective observational studies exploring the role of cytoreductive nephrectomy have been reported. These have suggested an association between cytoreductive nephrectomy and survival, with hazard ratio estimates ranging from 0.39 to 0.68 in favour of cytoreductive nephrectomy. In contrast, the CARMENA randomized trial demonstrated that sunitinib alone was noninferior to cytoreductive nephrectomy followed by sunitinib in intermediate-risk and poor-risk patients. The results of the SURTIME trial suggest that initial sunitinib followed by a deferred cytoreductive nephrectomy may also be a reasonable approach in select patients.On the basis of the evidence to date, there is still a role for cytoreductive nephrectomy in the multimodality treatment of mRCC. Careful patient selection is of paramount importance and discussion in multidisciplinary tumour boards is encouraged. As the treatment landscape of mRCC continues to change, the role of cytoreductive nephrectomy in the modern immuno-oncology era will need to be explored.