The association between urinary albumin:creatinine ratio and other cardiovascular risk factors such as age, blood pressure, obesity, glycemic indices, insulin and lipid profile was examined in a population in a Chinese community consisting of 795 men (mean age 35.8 +/- 8.8 yr) and 538 women (mean age 37.9 +/- 8.9 yr) with a normal glucose tolerance defined by WHO criteria. Men with a urinary albumin:creatinine ratio above the 90th percentile had higher systolic and diastolic blood pressures, fasting plasma glucose, 2-h glucose after a 75 g oral glucose load, and fasting serum insulin. Women with high urinary albumin:creatinine values had higher systolic and diastolic blood pressures, body mass index, waist-hip ratio, fasting insulin and triglycerides. Multivariate analysis showed that only systolic blood pressure and fasting glucose in men, and diastolic blood pressure and fasting insulin in women, independently contributed to urinary albumin:creatinine. When the effect of blood pressure was eliminated by excluding subjects with systolic blood pressure > 140 and diastolic > 90 mm Hg, only fasting insulin was associated with urinary albumin:creatinine in women. No associations were found for men. We conclude that microalbuminuria may be a marker for cardiovascular disease only because of its association with blood pressure in men, while in women, there is an additional independent association with fasting serum insulin.