Microalbuminuria has been associated with cardiovascular risk factors, events, and mortality. It also clusters with hyperinsulinemia and the metabolic syndrome. How urinary albumin excretion and the fasting serum insulin level relate to coronary artery disease (CAD) has not been previously determined. In 308 patients undergoing elective coronary angiography, the albumin to creatinine ratio was measured in urine from an early morning void. The fasting serum insulin level was also determined. CAD was assessed by angiography. Urinary albumin excretion was 28 +/- 5 mg/g (mean +/- SE) in patients with CAD and 10 +/- 1 mg/g in those without CAD (P < 0.001). Fasting serum insulin levels were also greater in patients with CAD compared with those without CAD; 20 +/- 3 and 13 +/- 1 microU/mL, respectively (P = 0.016). Urinary albumin excretion and fasting serum insulin levels increased progressively with severity of CAD. In patients without diabetes (n = 255), significant relationships of urinary albumin excretion and the fasting serum insulin levels to CAD were observed, but they were more pronounced when patients with diabetes (n = 53) were included. In multiple regression analysis, the odds ratios for severe CAD were 2.2 (95% confidence interval, 1.1 to 4.5) for microalbuminuria and 2. 2 (95% confidence interval, 1.3 to 3.8) for hyperinsulinemia. In summary, urinary albumin excretion and the fasting serum insulin levels were directly related to angiographic evidence of CAD. Microalbuminuria and hyperinsulinemia predict a significantly elevated risk for coronary atherosclerosis.