Microalbuminuria is an early marker of renal damage and has been shown to predict future cardiovascular mortality and morbidity in patients with diabetes or hypertension, as well as in subjects in the general population. In this study, we investigated the hypothesis that the presence of microalbuminuria reflects the advancement of arterial stiffness by using a study group of 136 community residents who had no cardiovascular diseases except for hypertension and who were not taking any medications. Urinary albumin concentration was determined by the standard method and corrected by creatinine. Microalbuminuria was defined as a urinary albumin/creatinine ratio of 2.0-30.0 mg/mmol creatinine. Arterial stiffness was evaluated by pulse wave velocity (PWV) determined at three points: from the heart to the carotid artery, to the brachial artery, and to the ankle. Carotid arterial pressure was determined using a tonometric sensor. Carotid ultrasonography was performed to measure carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) and carotid arterial internal dimension. Subjects with microalbuminuria had higher blood pressure and wider pulse pressure not only in the brachial artery but also in the carotid artery. Microalbuminuria was associated with significantly higher PWV compared with that of normoalbuminuric subjects at all sites studied (mean PWV: 821.2+/-137.4 cm/s vs. 933.8+/-137.5 cm/s, p<0.0001). Stepwise regression analysis revealed that the presence of mircroalbuminuria (p=0.047) was a significant independent predictor of PWV in addition to age, sex, and systolic blood pressure. These findings suggest that microalbuminuria is associated with advanced atherosclerosis in the general population. Underlying arterial stiffness may explain the high cardiovascular mortality in subjects with microalbuminuria. Hypertension may be the mechanism linking microalbuminuria and arterial stiffness in the general population.