The use of left ventricular assist devices (LVADs) in treating patients with advanced heart failure restores cardiac output resulting in improved perfusion to multiple organ systems with important clinical benefits. Renal pathophysiology during LVAD support remains an evolving, poorly understood, and potentially dynamic problem. Changes in renal function after LVAD placement have been investigated in multiple studies with contradictory results. Renal dysfunction is common prior to LVAD placement, which complicates postoperative clinical outcomes. The purpose of this review is to assess the latest information regarding the effects of LVADs on renal function with regard to hemodynamics, physiology, pathology and clinical issues prior to and after placement of the devices. The review should then aid in identifying patients best suited to benefit from this technology and to refine the therapy to reduce associated risks.