Essential hypertension causes renal injury. Hypertensive nephroangiosclerosis (HN) or hypertensive nephropathy are terms most commonly used to describe this renal pathology. Although specific histological lesions occurring in affected kidneys are well known, pathogenesis of hypertension-related renal scarring is not completely understood. Evidence exists to support the theory that other factors such as aging, black race or smoking, beside blood pressure, contribute to the development and progression of HN. Metabolic disturbances, cocaine and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug abuse, ochratoxin A exposure, dietary salt intake, heavy metal toxicity, hantavirus infection and perinatal programming are also considered risk factors. Renal susceptibility genes may determine whether hypertension-induced progressive renal damage occurs and how severe it is. Determination of all risk factors may identify patients at high risk of renal failure and help tailor an appropriate management. In the present paper, the knowledge available on this clinically important objective is discussed.