The Modification of Diet in Renal Disease (MDRD) Study examined the effects of strict blood pressure control and dietary protein restriction on the progression of kidney disease. Here, we retrospectively evaluated outcomes of nondiabetic participants with stages 2-4 chronic kidney disease (CKD) from randomized and nonrandomized cohorts of the MDRD Study. Kidney failure and survival status through December of 2000, were obtained from the US Renal Data System and the National Death Index. Event rates were calculated for kidney failure, death, and a composite outcome of death and kidney failure. In the 1666 patients, rates for kidney failure were four times higher than that for death. Kidney failure was a more likely event than death in subgroups based on baseline glomerular filtration rate, proteinuria, kidney disease etiology, gender, and race. It was only among those older than 65 that the rate for death approximated that for kidney failure. In contrast to other populations with CKD, our study of relatively young subjects with nondiabetic disease has found that the majority of the participants advanced to kidney failure with a low competing risk of death. In such patients, the primary emphasis should be on delaying progression of kidney disease.