The soluble receptor of advanced glycation end product (sRAGE) prevents vascular damage in experimental animal models, and observational studies in the general population support the hypothesis that sRAGE may exert a protective role on the vasculature. To test this in patients with chronic kidney disease, we determined the relationship between plasma sRAGE and carotid atherosclerosis in 142 patients with an average estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) of 32 ml/min per 1.73 m(2) and 49 healthy control individuals matched for age and gender. Plasma sRAGE was significantly higher in patients with chronic kidney disease than in the control cohort. In an aggregate analysis of the patients and controls, there was a significant inverse relationship between eGFR and sRAGE, with a breakpoint in the regression line at 64 ml/min per 1.73 m(2). Significant inverse relationships were found for sRAGE to intima-media thickness and plaque number in the patients with chronic kidney disease, but no such associations were found in the controls. On covariance analysis, the slopes of intima-media thickness and plaque number to sRAGE were significantly steeper in patients with chronic kidney disease than in the controls. Furthermore, a significant interaction was found between sRAGE and smoking for predicting atherosclerotic plaques in patients with chronic kidney disease. The pathophysiological significance of this correlation will have to await more mechanistic studies.