Sodium-glucose co-transporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitors are a new class of antidiabetic drugs that inhibit glucose and sodium reabsorption at proximal tubules. These drugs may exhibit renoprotective properties, since they prevent the deterioration of the glomerular filtration rate and reduce the degree of albuminuria in patients with diabetes-associated kidney disease. In this review we consider the pathophysiologic mechanisms that have been recently implicated in the renoprotective properties of SGLT2 inhibitors. The beneficial effects of SGLT2 inhibitors on the conventional risk factors for kidney disease (such as blood pressure, hyperglycaemia, body weight and serum uric acid levels) may explain, at least in part, the observed renal-protecting properties of these compounds. However, it has been hypothesized that the most important mechanisms for this phenomenon include the reduction in the intraglomerular pressure, the changes in the local and systemic degree of activation of the renin-aldosterone-angiotensin system and a shift in renal fuel consumption towards more efficient energy substrates such as ketone bodies. The beneficial effects of SGLT2 inhibitors on various aspects of renal function make them an attractive choice in patients with (and possibly without) diabetes-associated renal impairment.