The last decade has been a remarkably productive one in the field of bone biology. New insights into the maintenance of a normal bone microenvironment have led to significant advances in our understanding of many important skeletal disorders, including renal osteodystrophy. Novel targets for therapeutic manipulation have been exposed and encouraging progress made towards new treatments. In addition, just as clinical studies have alerted us to the potential hazards of vascular calcification, basic science has unearthed the intimate nature of the relationship between the previously separate disciplines of bone and vascular biology. The clinical nephrologist, however, may be forgiven a little cynicism at this point. If such progress has been made, why do the same proverbial difficulties confront us in day-to-day practice? Control of phosphate remains inadequate, despite a literature which constantly reaffirms its crucial importance, and parathyroid hyperplasia seems inevitable in many patients. Furthermore, even the satisfaction of successful control of serum parathyroid hormone concentration must now be tempered by disquiet regarding the skeletal and cardiovascular consequences of oversuppression. This review aims to provide an update of the latest developments in relevant skeletal research and to assess how recently acquired knowledge may improve clinical nephrological practice over the next five years.