Acute kidney injury (AKI) represents a significant clinical concern that is associated with high mortality rates and also represents a significant risk factor for the development of chronic kidney disease (CKD). This article will consider alterations in renal endothelial function in the setting of AKI that may underlie impairment in renal perfusion and how inefficient vascular repair may manifest post‐AKI and contribute to the potential transition to CKD. We provide updated terminology for cells previously classified as “endothelial progenitor” that may mediate vascular repair such as pro‐angiogenic cells and endothelial colony forming cells. We consider how endothelial repair may be mediated by these different cell types following vascular injury, particularly in models of AKI. We further summarize the potential ability of these different cells to mitigate the severity of AKI, improve perfusion and maintain vascular structure in pre‐clinical studies. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.