Over the past decade, focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) has emerged as the most common primary glomerulopathy in adults in the USA. However in our practice, we became aware of increased numbers of patients with IgA nephropathy (IgAN). In order to further examine this, a retrospective analysis of renal biopsy diagnoses from adults was done from our biopsy database. Adult renal biopsies received from 3/1/2001 to 2/28/2005 were analyzed to determine the frequency of common primary glomerulopathies, which included FSGS, IgAN, membranous nephropathy (MN), minimal change disease, and membranoproliferative glomerulonephritis Type I (MPGN). The patients were grouped as all adults (>or=20 years) and young adults (20-39 years). The distribution of common primary glomerulopathies among the two age groups, expressed as a percentage of all non-transplant diagnoses (n = 4,504), was IgAN 6.9/3.4%, FSGS 9.6/3.2%, MN 6.8/1.6%, minimal change disease 2.5/0.9%, MPGN 1.2/0.2%. IgAN was as common as FSGS in young adults in our biopsy population (IgAN/FSGS 154/143 1.08:1). IgAN was the most common primary glomerulopathy in young adult Caucasians (IgAN/FSGS 2.1:1). IgAN was also the most common cause of end-stage renal disease (ESRD) in young adult Caucasians. In contrast, IgAN was rare in African Americans in whom FSGS remains more common (FSGS/IgAN 9.7:1). These findings from a large renal biopsy referral center serving 24 Midwestern and Southern states suggest that IgAN may be the most common primary glomerulopathy and the most common cause of ESRD in young adult Caucasians in the USA.