A review is presented of the development and current status of nuclear shell-model calculations, in which the two-body effective interaction between valence nucleons is derived from the free nucleon-nucleon potential. The significant progress made in this field within the last decade is emphasized, in particular as regards the so-called V approach to the renormalization of the bare nucleon-nucleon interaction. In the last part of the review, we first give a survey of realistic shell-model calculations from early to present days. Then, we report recent results for neutron-rich nuclei near doubly magic 132Sn, and for the whole even-mass N=82 isotonic chain. These illustrate how shell-model effective interactions derived from modern nucleon-nucleon potentials are able to provide an accurate description of nuclear structure properties.