Odd-skipped family of proteins (Odd in Drosophila and Osr in vertebrates) are evolutionarily conserved zinc finger transcription factors. Two Osr genes are present in mammalian genomes, and it was recently reported that Osr1, but not Osr2, is required for murine kidney development. Here, we show that in Xenopus and zebrafish both Osr1 and Osr2 are necessary and sufficient for the development of the pronephros. Osr genes are expressed in early prospective pronephric territories, and morphants for either of the two genes show severely impaired kidney development. Conversely, overexpression of Osr genes promotes formation of ectopic kidney tissue. Molecularly, Osr proteins function as transcriptional repressors during kidney formation. We also show that Drosophila Odd induces kidney tissue in Xenopus. This might be accomplished through recruitment of Groucho-like co-repressors. Odd genes may also be required for proper development of the Malpighian tubules, the Drosophila renal organs. Our results highlight the evolutionary conserved involvement of Odd-skipped transcription factors in the development of kidneys.