Background: The immune escape or tolerance of cancer cells is considered to be closely involved in cancer progression. Programmed death-1 (PD-1) is an inhibitory receptor expressed on activating T cells, and several types of cancer cells were found to express PD-1 ligand 1 (PD-L1) and ligand 2 (PD-L2). Methods: In the present study, we investigated PD-L1/2 expression in papillary renal cell carcinoma (pRCC). Result: We found PD-L1 expression in 29 of 102 cases, but no PD-L2 expression was seen. PD-L1 expression was not significantly correlated with any clinicopathological factor, including progression-free survival and overall survival. The frequency of PD-L1-positive cases was higher in type 2 (36%) than in type 1 (22%) pRCC; however, there was no significant difference in the percentages of score 0 cases (p value = 0.084 in Chi-square test). The frequency of high PD-L1 expression cases was higher in type 2 (23%) than in type 1 (11%), and the frequency of high PD-L1 expression cases was higher in grade 3/4 (21%) than in grade 1/2 (13%). However, no significant association was found between PD-L1 expression and all clinicopathological factors in pRCC. Conclusion: High expression of PD-L1 in cancer cells was potentially associated to highly histological grade of malignancy in pRCC. The evaluation of the PD-L1 protein might still be useful for predicting the efficacy of anti-cancer immunotherapy using immuno-checkpoint inhibitors, however, not be useful for predicting the clinical prognosis.