The timing of the start of dialysis in elderly patients is driven by the desire to optimize the quantity and quality of life. Limited data exist on how the level of renal function, and uraemic signs and symptoms can be used to determine when dialysis should be initiated in elderly patients. EQUAL, an international prospective cohort study, aims to address these issues. To this end, it will enroll 3500 patients >65 years of age with CKD of various aetiologies under the care of nephrologists. These patients will be followed until death, discharge from the nephrology clinic to primary care or until the end of the observation period after 4 years of follow-up. At the time of enrollment, patients must have an estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) of 20 mL/min/1.73 m(2) or lower, but should not yet be on dialysis. Standardized data collection will include demographics, lifestyle, comorbidities, uraemic signs and symptoms, nutritional status, medication and routine blood and urine biochemistry. It will also comprise quality of life data, information on decision making including patients preferences and patients satisfaction.