This review of the long-term outcome after a complete remission of proteinuria includes 82 adult patients with biopsy-proven idiopathic membranous glomerulonephritis (IMGN), who represented 25% of the total cases (82 of 323 cases) of IMGN in our registry. Complete remission was defined as at least two consecutive follow-up evaluations showing proteinuria of 0.3 g/d or less of protein. Before remission, 70% of the patients had nephrotic-range proteinuria (61% at presentation, 9% during follow-up), and 30% were always subnephrotic (protein level < 3.5 g/d). Mean total observation time was 101 +/- 56 months, with a postremission period of 69 +/- 60 months. Seventy-one percent of the patients remained in remission and 29% relapsed. In the relapse group, 46% relapsed to nephrotic-range proteinuria and 54% relapsed to subnephrotic levels. The plasma creatinine level remained stable in 86% of the patients (71 of 82 patients) but became or remained elevated despite a period of complete remission in the remaining 14% (8 of 82 patients). No patient went on to end-stage renal disease. Seventy-seven percent of the patients had no specific treatment within 6 months of remission, whereas 23% had steroid therapy alone or in combination with an immunosuppressive agent. In a multivariate analysis, the factors that favored both remission and its durability were persistent lower levels of proteinuria and female sex. Complete remission indicates an excellent long-term prognosis in patients with IMGN, but relapses are common and, in a small percentage, chronic renal insufficiency occurs. Thus, our data suggest that even this group of patients should be monitored on a regular basis.