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PURPOSE OF REVIEW: In recent years, it has become clear that the insulin receptor is important in a variety of renal cell types. It is through this transmembrane receptor that insulin, and to a lesser extent insulin-like growth factor, hormones bind and can control important cellular functions. This review will summarize the advances in our understanding of the role of the insulin receptor and insulin signalling in the glomeruli and tubules of the kidney. RECENT FINDINGS: The insulin receptor is important for podocyte function and when lost results in a number of features resembling diabetic nephropathy. Exciting recent data also highlight the importance of mammalian target of rapamycin in nutrient sensing and protein biosynthesis in the podocyte, which may also be regulated by the insulin receptor. The insulin receptor has also been shown to perform an important role in the distal regions of the renal tubules, regulating sodium excretion and blood pressure control here. SUMMARY: The insulin receptor is crucial for renal function in glomeruli and tubules. When signalling is diminished here, as may occur in insulin-resistant states, it may be responsible for a number of important renal complications including albuminuric glomerular disease and hypertension.