Some patients with essential hypertension manifest greater than normal urinary albumin excretion (UAE). The significance of this association, which is the object of this review, is not well established. Hypertensive patients with microalbuminuria manifest greater levels of blood pressure, particularly at night, and higher serum levels of cholesterol, triglycerides, and uric acid than patients with normal UAE. Levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, on the other hand, were lower in patients with microalbuminuria than in those with normal UAE. Patients with microalbuminuria manifested greater incidence of insulin resistance and thicker carotid arteries than patients with normal UAE. After a follow-up of 7 years, we observed that 12 cardiovascular events occurred among 54 (21.3%) patients with microalbuminuria and only two such events among 87 patients with normal UAE (P < 0.0002). Stepwise logistic regression analysis showed that UAE, cholesterol level, and diastolic blood pressure were independent predictors of the cardiovascular outcome. Rate of creatinine clearance from patients with microalbuminuria decreased more than that from those with normal UAE. In conclusion, these studies suggest that hypertensive individuals with microalbuminuria manifest a variety of biochemical and hormonal derangements with pathogenic potential, which results in hypertensive patients having a greater incidence of cardiovascular events and a greater decline in renal function than patients with normal UAE.