Over the past two decades it has become clear that the glomerular podocyte is a key cell in preventing albuminuria, kidney failure and cardiovascular morbidity. Understanding the key pathways that protect the podocyte in times of glomerular stress, which can also be therapeutically manipulated, are highly attractive. In the following review we assess the evidence that the peroxisome proliferator activating receptor (PPAR) agonists are beneficial for podocyte and kidney function with a focus on PPAR-γ. We explain our current understanding of the mechanisms of action of these agonists and the evidence they are beneficial in diabetic and non-diabetic kidney disease. We also outline why these drugs have not been widely used for kidney disease in the past but they may be in the future.