This review aims at discussing the questions raised by the hydrocarbon-related chronic nephropathy and its possible consequence, the hydrocarbon-related chronic renal failure. It has been attempted to adopt the point of view of the clinician. Therefore, the most important part of the review is devoted to a presentation and an analysis of the available data on humans. The main features of the available studies on human subjects are presented, their conclusions discussed in the light of the possible methodological flaws, and practical conclusions drawn. After a discussion of the main difficulties encountered for selecting the suitable exposure indicator, the studies are discussed in order of decreasing quality of the study design (cohort, case-control, cross-sectional studies, and the case reports). It is concluded that a great deal of controversies about chronic hydrocarbon-related nephropathy is explained by differences in the study design and that hydrocarbon-induced nephropathy is probably more than a mere hypothesis, although a causal relationship has not yet been proven. Finally, some practical consequences for dealing with a hydrocarbon-exposed patient diagnosed with a kidney disease and the need for further research are discussed.