Microalbuminuria is a marker for diabetic nephropathy. It also signifies cardiovascular disease, as well as nephropathy, in type 2 diabetes (DM2). Microalbuminuria may precede DM2, occurring with the insulin resistance syndrome and its components, including obesity and hypertension. Other indicators of cardiovascular risk, such as markers of inflammation, are associated with microalbuminuria in populations of patients with and without diabetes. With the rising prevalence of DM2 in minority youth, especially in Native Americans, a marker for future disease risk would allow earlier prevention strategies to be tested. Before microalbuminuria can be used in a prevention strategy, more needs to be known about the mechanism(s) of the association between elevated excretion, its relationship to glucose intolerance, and its relative contribution to cardiovascular and renal disease. These questions are especially applicable as we begin to observe the long-term complications of diabetes in youth.