Deaths of participants and losses to follow-up pose challenges for defining outcomes in epidemiologic studies. The authors compared several definitions of incident chronic kidney disease (CKD) in terms of incidence, agreement, and risk factor associations. They used data from 14,873 participants in the community-based, multicenter, biracial Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study (1987-1999). The estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) was based on serum creatinine at baseline and the 3- and 9-year follow-up visits. Hospitalizations were ascertained continuously. The authors compared 4 definitions of incident CKD: 1) low eGFR (<60 mL/minute/1.73 m(2)); 2) low and declining (> or =25%) eGFR; 3) an increase in serum creatinine (> or =0.4 mg/dL) at 3- or 9-year follow-ups; and 4) CKD-related hospitalization or death. From these definitions, they identified 1,086, 677, 457, and 163 cases, respectively. There was relatively good agreement among definitions 1-3, but definition 4 identified mostly different cases. Risk factor associations were consistent across definitions for hypertension and lipids. Diabetes showed weaker associations with definition 1 (incidence rate ratio = 1.5, 95% confidence interval: 1.2, 1.7) than with definition 4 (incidence rate ratio = 6.3, confidence interval: 4.4, 8.9). Associations with gender differed in direction and magnitude across definitions. Case definition can impact relative risk estimates for CKD risk factors.