Subclinical elevation of urinary albumin excretion (microalbuminuria) is useful for the detection of individuals at high risk of developing nephropathy in both insulin-dependent and non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. We have evaluated the performance of Micro-Bumintest, a semi-quantitative test for the rapid detection of microalbuminuria. A total of 1186 samples from a population-based survey of the high diabetes prevalence community of Nauru were studied. Compared with a radioimmunoassay method, the Micro-Bumintest had a sensitivity of 97.6%, specificity of 93.2% and overall efficiency of 94.8%, when 40 micrograms/ml was used as the discriminating albumin concentration defining microalbuminuria. Significant differences in radioimmunoassay results between categories of the Micro-Bumintest were found, indicating its usefulness as a semi-quantitative test. Compared with subjects with normal glucose tolerance, there was a statistically significant progressive increase in the prevalence of microalbuminuria as detected by Micro-Bumintest in subjects with impaired glucose tolerance and diabetes mellitus. Micro-Bumintest performs well as a screening test for detection of microalbuminuria not only in the clinical situation, but also in population-based epidemiological studies.