There are few population-based studies of renal dysfunction and none conducted in developing countries. In the present study the prevalence and predictors of elevated serum creatinine levels (SCr > or = 1.3 mg/dl for men and 1.1 mg/dl for women) were determined among Brazilian adults (18-59 years) and older adults (>60 years). Participants included all older adults (N = 1742) and a probabilistic sample of adults (N = 818) from Bambu town, MG, Southeast Brazil. Predictors were investigated using multiple logistic regression. Mean SCr levels were 0.77 +/- 0.15 mg/dl for adults, 1.02 +/- 0.39 mg/dl for older men, and 0.81 +/- 0.17 mg/dl for older women. Because there were only 4 cases (0.48%) with elevated SCr levels among adults, the analysis of elevated SCr levels was restricted to older adults. The overall prevalence of elevated SCr levels among the elderly was 5.09% (76/1494). The prevalence of hypercreatinemia increased significantly with age (chi = 26.17, P = 0.000), being higher for older men (8.19%) than for older women (5.29%, chi = 5.00, P = 0.02). Elevated SCr levels were associated with age 70-79 years (odds ratio [OR] = 2.25, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.15-4.42), hypertension (OR = 3.04, 95% CI: 1.34-6.92), use of antihypertensive drugs (OR = 2.46, 95% CI: 1.26-4.82), chest pain (OR = 3.37, 95% CI: 1.31-8.74), and claudication (OR = 3.43, 95% CI: 1.30-9.09) among men, and with age >80 years (OR = 4.88, 95% CI: 2.24-10.65), use of antihypertensive drugs (OR = 4.06, 95% CI: 1.67-9.86), physical inactivity (OR = 2.11, 95% CI: 1.11-4.02) and myocardial infarction (OR = 3.89, 95% CI: 1.58-9.62) among women. The prevalence of renal dysfunction observed was much lower than that reported in other population-based studies, but predictors were similar. New investigations are needed to confirm the variability in prevalence and associated factors of renal dysfunction among populations.