Despite the high prevalence of chronic kidney disease among the elderly, few studies have described their loss of kidney function. We sought to determine the progression of kidney dysfunction among a community-based cohort of elderly subjects. The cohort included 10 184 subjects 66 years of age or older, who had one or more outpatient serum creatinine measurements during each of two time periods: 1 July to 31 December 2001 and 1 July to 31 December 2003. A mixed effects model, including covariates for age, gender, diabetes mellitus, and comorbidity, was used to determine the rate of decline in estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR, in ml/min/1.73 m2) per year over a median follow-up of 2.0 years. Subjects with diabetes mellitus had the greatest decline in eGFR of 2.1 (95% CI 1.8-2.5) and 2.7 (95% CI 2.3-3.1) ml/min/1.73 m2 per year in women and men, respectively. The rate of decline for women and men without diabetes mellitus was 0.8 (95% CI 0.6-1.0) and 1.4 (95% CI 1.2-1.6) ml/min/1.73 m2 per year. Subjects with a study mean eGFR<30 ml/min/1.73 m2, both those with and without diabetes mellitus, experienced the greatest decline in eGFR. In conclusion, we found that the majority of elderly subjects have no or minimal progression of kidney disease over 2 years. Strategies aimed at slowing progression of kidney disease should consider underlying risk factors for progression and the negligible loss of kidney function that occurs in the majority of older adults.