The global burden of chronic kidney disease (CKD) intertwined with cardiovascular disease has become a major health problem. Oxidative stress (OS) plays an important role in the pathophysiology of CKD. The nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2)-antioxidant responsive element (ARE) antioxidant system plays a critical role in kidney protection by regulating antioxidants during OS. Heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1), one of the targets of Nrf2-ARE, plays an important role in regulating OS and is protective in a variety of human and animal models of kidney disease. Thus, activation of Nrf2-HO-1 signaling may offer a potential approach to the design of novel therapeutic agents for kidney diseases. In this review, we have discussed the association between OS and the pathogenesis of CKD. We propose Nrf2-HO-1 signaling-mediated cell survival systems be explored as pharmacological targets for the treatment of CKD and have reviewed the literature on the beneficial effects of small molecule natural products that may provide protection against CKD.