Vascular and soft tissue calcification contributes to cardiovascular morbidity and mortality in both the general population and CKD. Because calcium and phosphate serum concentrations are near supersaturation, the balance of inhibitors and promoters critically influences the development of calcification. An assay that measures the overall propensity for calcification to occur in serum may have clinical use. Here, we describe a nanoparticle-based assay that detects, in the presence of artificially elevated calcium and phosphate concentrations, the spontaneous transformation of spherical colloidal primary calciprotein particles (CPPs) to elongate crystalline secondary CPPs. We used characteristics of this transition to describe the intrinsic capacity of serum to inhibit the precipitation of calcium and phosphate. Using this assay, we found that both the sera of mice deficient in fetuin-A, a serum protein that inhibits calcification, and the sera of patients on hemodialysis have reduced intrinsic properties to inhibit calcification. In summary, we developed a nanoparticle-based test that measures the overall propensity for calcification in serum. The clinical use of the test requires evaluation in a prospective study.