Lifetime risk is the cumulative risk of experiencing an outcome between a disease-free index age and death. The lifetime risk of ESRD for a middle-aged individual is a relevant and easy to communicate measure of disease burden. We estimated lifetime risk of ESRD in a cohort of 2,895,521 adults without ESRD from 1997 to 2008. To estimate lifetime risk of ESRD by level of baseline kidney function, we analyzed a cohort of participants who had a serum creatinine measurement. We also estimated the sex- and index age-specific lifetime risk of incident ESRD and accounted for the competing risk of death. Among those individuals without ESRD at age 40 years, the lifetime risk of ESRD was 2.66% for men and 1.76% for women. The risk was higher in persons with reduced kidney function: for eGFR=44-59 ml/min per 1.73 m(2), the lifetime risk of ESRD was 7.51% for men and 3.21% for women, whereas men and women with relatively preserved kidney function (eGFR=60-89 ml/min per 1.73 m(2)) had lifetime risks of ESRD of 1.01% and 0.63%, respectively. The lifetime risk of ESRD was consistently higher for men at all ages and eGFR strata compared with women. In conclusion, approximately 1 in 40 men and 1 in 60 women of middle age will develop ESRD during their lifetimes (living into their 90s). These population-based estimates may assist individuals who make decisions regarding public health policy.