This observational study examined the association between modifiable lifestyle and social factors on the incidence and progression of early chronic kidney disease (CKD) among those with type 2 diabetes. All 6972 people from the Ongoing Telmisartan Alone and in Combination with Ramipril Global Endpoint Trial (ONTARGET) with diabetes but without macroalbuminuria were studied. CKD progression was defined as decline in GFR of more than 5% per year, progression to end-stage renal disease, microalbuminuria, or macroalbuminuria at 5.5 years. Lifestyle/social factors included tobacco and alcohol use, physical activity, stress, financial worries, the size of the social network and education. Adjustments were made for known risks such as age, diabetes duration, GFR, albuminuria, gender, body mass index, blood pressure, fasting plasma glucose, and angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors/angiotensin-receptor blockers use. Competing risk of death was considered. At study end, 31% developed CKD and 15% had died. The social network score (SNS) was a significant independent risk factor of CKD and death, reducing the risk by 11 and 22% when comparing the third to the first tertile of the SNS (odds ratios of CKD 0.89 and death 0.78). Education showed a significant association with CKD but stress and financial worries did not. Those with moderate alcohol consumption had a significantly decreased CKD risk compared with nonusers. Regular physical activity significantly decreased the risk of CKD. Thus, lifestyle is a determinant of kidney health in people at high cardiovascular risk with diabetes.