||Trace amounts of lithium are essential for our physical and mental health, and administration of lithium has improved the quality of life of millions of patients with bipolar disorder for >60 years. However, in a substantial number of patients with bipolar disorder, long-term lithium therapy comes at the cost of severe renal side effects, including nephrogenic diabetes insipidus and rarely, ESRD. Although the mechanisms underlying the lithium-induced renal pathologies are becoming clearer, several recent animal studies revealed that short-term administration of lower amounts of lithium prevents different forms of experimental AKI. In this review, we discuss the knowledge of the pathologic and therapeutic effects of lithium in the kidney. Furthermore, we discuss the underlying mechanisms of these seemingly paradoxical effects of lithium, in which fine-tuned regulation of glycogen synthase kinase type 3, a prime target for lithium, seems to be key. The new discoveries regarding the protective effect of lithium against AKI in rodents call for follow-up studies in humans and suggest that long-term therapy with low lithium concentrations could be beneficial in CKD.