He was born in Paris, his mother being actress Véra Sergine. He was apprenticed to Boris Kaufman, a brother of Dziga Vertov, who much later worked in the United States on such films as On the Waterfront (1954). Renoir was the lighting cameraman on numerous pictures such as Monsieur Vincent (1947), Jean Renoir's The River (1951), Cleopatra (1963), Roger Vadim's Barbarella (1968), and the James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me (1977). At the time of Claude Renoir's death, The Times of London wrote of The River that "its exquisite evocation of the Indian scene, helped to inaugurate a new era in the cinema, one in which color was finally accepted as a medium fit for great film makers to work in."
He married twice and had two children, a son and a daughter, actress Sophie Renoir. Claude Renoir died at age 79 in Troyes, 55 miles east of Paris, near the village of Essoyes, where he had a home.
Renoir sometimes worked on the same films as his uncle and namesake Claude Renoirainé (senior), nicknamed 'Coco', (1901-69), and many reference sources (including IMDB) combine the career credits of the two men as if they were the same person.