Plasma retinol-binding protein 4 (RBP4) may be a new adipokine linked to obesity-induced insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. The impact of diabetic nephropathy on plasma RBP4 levels, however, is not known. We tested the hypothesis that microalbuminuria is associated with elevated plasma concentrations of RBP4 in type 2 diabetic subjects. Retinol, its binding protein and transthyretin (TTR) were measured in the plasma and urine of 62 type 2 diabetic subjects, 26 of whom had microalbuminuria. The results were compared to 35 healthy control subjects. Despite no differences in plasma retinol, concentrations of the RBP4 were significantly elevated in plasma of diabetic patients and significantly higher in those with microalbuminuria. The higher plasma levels of the binding protein in subjects with microalbuminuria were accompanied by both significantly elevated plasma TTR and increased urinary levels of RBP4. There were no correlations of plasma-binding protein levels and parameters of insulin resistance. Our study suggests that plasma RBP4 levels in type 2 diabetic patients are affected by incipient nephropathy. Therefore, further studies evaluating RBP4 as a regulator of systemic insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes will need to take renal function into consideration.