Urban renewal and sustainable development are two popular issues in both policy agenda and academia. Although their importance has been increasingly recognized, an integrated review covering sustainability, planning, and urban renewal has yet to be produced. Based on 81 journal papers, this paper presents a critical review of recent studies on sustainable urban renewal over the period 1990–2012. The review focuses on the planning sub-system and the social sub-system of urban renewal in terms of the evaluation of sustainability. The complexity of achieving sustainable urban renewal is emphasized and discussed. To better clarify the mechanism behind the urban renewal process and improve urban sustainability, recommendations of future research directions are also provided.