Factors related to the development of microalbuminuria in hypertension are not well known. We did a prospective study to investigate whether glomerular hyperfiltration precedes the development of microalbuminuria in hypertension. We assessed 502 never-treated subjects screened for stage 1 hypertension without microalbuminuria at baseline and followed up for 7.8 years. Creatinine clearance was measured at entry. Urinary albumin and ambulatory blood pressure were measured at entry and during the follow-up until subjects developed sustained hypertension needing antihypertensive treatment. Subjects with hyperfiltration (creatinine clearance >150 ml/min/1.73 m2, top quintile of the distribution) were younger and heavier than the rest of the group and had a greater follow-up increase in urinary albumin than subjects with normal filtration (P<0.001). In multivariable linear regression, creatinine clearance adjusted for confounders was a strong independent predictor of final urinary albumin (P<0.001). In multivariable Cox regression, patients with hyperfiltration had an adjusted hazard ratio for the development of microalbuminuria based on at least one positive measurement of 4.0 (95% confidence interval (CI), 2.1-7.4, P<0.001) and an adjusted hazard ratio for the development of microalbuminuria based on two consecutive positive measurements of 4.4 (95% CI, 2.1-9.2, P<0.001), as compared with patients with normal filtration. Age, female gender, and 24 h systolic blood pressure were other significant predictors of microalbuminuria. In conclusion, stage 1 hypertensive subjects with glomerular hyperfiltration are at increased risk of developing microalbuminuria. Early intervention with medical therapy may be beneficial in these subjects even if their blood pressure falls below normal limits during follow-up.