Patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) do not always receive care consistent with guidelines, in part due to complexities in CKD management, lack of randomized trial data to inform care, and a failure to disseminate best practice. At a 2007 conference of key Canadian stakeholders in kidney disease, attendees noted that the impact of Canadian Society of Nephrology (CSN) guidelines was attenuated given limited formal linkages between the CSN Clinical Practice Guidelines Group, kidney researchers, decision makers and knowledge users, and that further knowledge was required to guide care in patients with kidney disease. The idea for the Canadian Kidney Knowledge Translation and Generation Network (CANN-NET) developed from this meeting. CANN-NET is a pan-Canadian network established in partnership with CSN, the Kidney Foundation of Canada and other professional societies to improve the care and outcomes of patients with and at risk for kidney disease. The initial priority areas for knowledge translation include improving optimal timing of dialysis initiation, and increasing the appropriate use of home dialysis. Given the urgent need for new knowledge, CANN-NET has also brought together a national group of experienced Canadian researchers to address knowledge gaps by encouraging and supporting multicentre randomized trials in priority areas, including management of cardiovascular disease in patients with kidney failure.