Despite advances in systemic therapy for metastatic renal cell carcinoma, durable responses remain rare and surgical management remains a mainstay of treatment for many patients with metastatic disease. Management of the primary tumor in metastatic patients can occur as 1) palliative nephrectomy for symptomatic patients in whom cure is not achievable, 2) cytoreductive nephrectomy before systemic therapy, or 3) consolidative nephrectomy after systemic therapy. Palliative nephrectomy is rarely performed in centers where angioembolization is available. The evidence for cytoreductive nephrectomy is based on randomized trials in the cytokine era and retrospective studies in the more recent targeted therapy era. Consolidative nephrectomy is utilized after systemic therapy for intermediate- and poor-risk patients or in patients with potentially unresectable disease based on retrospective evidence. Resection of metastatic lesions, or metastasectomy, is utilized in select patients, with efficacy predicated on the organs involved and the extent of resection that is achievable, based on retrospective data. Herein, the evidence for surgical management of both the primary tumor and metastatic lesions in patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma is reviewed.