The paper presents in detail the renormalization theory of the energy-momentum tensor of a two dimensional massless scalar field which has been used elsewhere to study the local physics in a model of black hole evaporation. The treatment is generalized to include the Casimir effect occurring in spatially finite models. The essence of the method is evaluation of the field products in the tensor as functions of two points, followed by covariant subtraction of the discontinuous terms arising as the points coalesce. In two dimensional massless theories, conformal transformations permit exact calculations to be performed. The results are applied here to some special cases, primarily space-times of constant curvature, with emphasis on the existence of distinct 'vacuum' states associated naturally with different conformal coordinate systems. The relevance of the work to the general problems of defining observables and of classifying and interpreting states in curved-space quantum field theory is discussed.