We studied the incidence and progression of coronary artery calcification in people with early chronic kidney disease. We used a cohort of 562 adult patients with chronic kidney disease who had an estimated glomerular filtration rate of <60 ml/min/1.73 m(2), in a community-based study of people without clinical cardiovascular disease, the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. The majority had stage 3 disease. Coronary artery calcification was measured at baseline and again approximately 1.6 or 3.2 years later. The prevalence of coronary artery calcification at baseline was 66%, and its adjusted prevalence was 24% lower in African Americans as compared to Caucasians. The incidence of coronary artery calcification was 6.1% per year in women and 14.8% in men. Coronary artery calcification progressed in approximately 17% of subjects per year across all subgroups, and diabetes was associated with a 65% greater adjusted risk of progression. Male gender and diabetes were the only factors associated with adjusted coronary artery calcification incidence and progression, respectively. Our study shows that coronary artery calcification is common in people with stage 3 disease, progresses rapidly, and may contribute to cardiovascular risk.