The amount of proteinuria is a prognostic indicator in a variety of glomerular disorders. To examine the importance of urinary protein excretion in autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease, this study determined the clinical characteristics of autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease patients with established proteinuria and the frequency of microalbuminuria in hypertensive autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease patients without proteinuria. In 270 autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease patients, mean 24-h urinary protein excretion was 259 +/- 22 mg/day. Forty-eight of 270 autosomal dominant poly-cystic kidney disease patients had over proteinuria (> 300 mg/day). The patients with established proteinuria had higher mean arterial pressures, larger renal volumes, and lower creatinine clearances than did their nonproteinuric counterparts (all P < 0.0001), a greater pack year smoking history (P < 0.05), and the projection of a more aggressive course of renal disease (P < 0.05). All autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease patients with established proteinuria were hypertensive, as compared with 67% without established proteinuria (P < 0.001). Forty-nine patients with hypertension and left ventricular hypertrophy without established proteinuria were examined for microalbuminuria; 41% demonstrated microalbuminuria. Those with microalbuminuria had higher mean arterial pressure, larger renal volumes and increased filtration fraction. Therefore, established proteinuria and microalbuminuria in autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease patients are associated with increased mean arterial pressure and more severe renal cystic involvement.