We investigated the expression level of p53 upregulated modulator of apoptosis (PUMA), myeloid cell leukemia-I (MCL-1), and p53 in renal cell carcinoma (RCC) and para-carcinoma tissues, as well as their clinical significance. The expression levels of PUMA, MCL-1, and p53 in RCC and para-carcinoma tissues were measured using immunohistochemical and quantitative real-time PCR methods. Correlations between protein expression and pathological characteristics were analyzed. Renal clear cell carcinoma showed elevated MCL-1 and p53 protein expression (P > 0.05) and reduced PUMA expression as compared to that in para-carcinoma tissues. Spearman ranking correlation analysis showed that expression of PUMA, MCL-1, and p53 in was negatively correlated with RCC (r = -0.504, P = 0.001; r = -0.413, P = 0.008). We also observed significant correlation between MCL-1 expression and tumor differentiation (P < 0.05), where MCL-1 expression was significantly higher in well-differentiated adenocarcinoma as compared to that in medium or lowly differentiated adenocarcinoma. In addition, p53 expression was highly correlated with TNM staging (P < 0.05). Single factor analysis on COX's proportional hazard model indicated that postoperative survival rate and prognosis of renal clear cell carcinoma was highly correlated with TNM staging (P < 0.05). Quantitative real-time PCR analysis indicated higher expression of PUMA, MCL-1, and p53 in cancer tissues as compared to that in para-carcinoma tissues (P < 0.05).The expression of PUMA, MCL-1, and p53 can reflect the biological behavior of renal cell carcinoma, and can be used to indicate tumor invasion, progression, and prognosis.