We correlated baseline parameters with glomerular filtration rate (GFR) decline and kidney survival in 274 patients with proteinuric non-diabetic chronic nephropathies (creatinine clearance 20 to 70 ml/min/1.73 m2 and proteinuria > 1 g/24 hr over the last three months) enrolled in the Ramipril Efficacy In Nephropathy (REIN) trial. The GFR, evaluated at baseline, one, three and six months after randomization then every six months, declined linearly by 0.52 +/- 0.83 ml/min/1.73 m2/month (mean +/- SD) over a follow-up (median: range) of 21:3 to 52 months, and kidney survival was 64%. In multivariate analysis, higher baseline proteinuria (P = 0.006), and lower GFR (P = 0.0001) and creatinine clearance (P = 0.0001) correlated with a faster GFR decline. Higher proteinuria was the only baseline predictor of a shorter kidney survival (P = 0.0007) and its predictive value was independent of the underlying renal disease, treatment randomization, and blood pressure control during the followup. Patients in the lowest tertile of baseline proteinuria (< 2.5 g/24 hr) had the slowest rate of GFR decline (-0.25 +/- 0.72 ml/min/1.73 m2/month) and the highest kidney survival (94%), compared with patients in the middle tertile (proteinuria 2.5 to 4.3 g/24 hr; delta GFR, -0.59 +/- 0.82 ml/min/1.73 m2/month, P = 0.008; kidney survival 57%, P = 0.0011) and in the highest tertile (proteinuria > 4.3 g/24 hr; delta GFR, -0.79 +/- 0.87 ml/min/1.73 m2/month, P = 0.0001, kidney survival 44%, P = 0.0001). Kidney survival significantly differed even between the middle and highest tertiles (P < 0.05). Thus, in non-diabetic chronic nephropathies proteinuria is an independent and accurate predictor of disease progression and ESRF.