Treatment options for primary and metastatic renal cancer are increasing. Accurate data from the pathological examination of renal cancer specimens aid clinicians in stratifying patients for surveillance and adjuvant therapies. This review focuses on biomarkers in diagnosis, prognosis and prediction of the biologic behavior of renal tumors which should be recorded in pathology reports and which are under investigation. Special emphasis is given to the use of immunohistochemical markers in differential diagnosis of various renal tumor subtypes. The relevance of cytogenetic and molecular findings is also discussed. The review includes the 2012 International Society for Urological Pathology Consensus conference recommendations.