Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is associated with a high risk of death from coronary artery disease and may modify the response to standard cardiovascular therapies. Treatment of subjects with CKD should ideally be based on evidence from randomized, clinical trials, but how often subjects with CKD have been excluded from these trials is uncertain. We undertook this study in order to quantify how often subjects with moderate to advanced CKD were excluded from large cardiovascular trials. MEDLINE and the reference list of selected articles were searched in order to identify large, randomized, controlled trials of five different coronary artery disease therapies published between 1998 and 2005. Exclusion criteria and reported clinical characteristics of subjects were abstracted. Rates of exclusion and reporting of baseline characteristics of study participants were compared for CKD, diabetes, history of smoking, and hypertension. Eighty-six trials randomizing 411 653 patients were identified. More than 80% of trials excluded subjects with end-stage renal disease and 75.0% excluded patients with CKD. Subjects with diabetes, hypertension, or a history of smoking were excluded less than 4% of the time. Baseline renal function of study participant was reported in only 7% of trials. Patients with CKD are frequently excluded from coronary artery disease trials and renal function of randomized subjects is rarely reported. These findings reinforce the notion that available data on the treatment of coronary artery disease in subjects with CKD have significant limitations and should be generalized to the treatment of subjects with CKD cautiously.