BACKGROUND: Compared with controls, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected persons have a greater prevalence of kidney disease, assessed according to high cystatin C level and albuminuria, but not according to creatinine level. However, the clinical importance of increased cystatin C level and albuminuria in the HIV-infected population has not been studied. STUDY DESIGN: We conducted an observational cohort study to determine the association of kidney disease (measured according to albuminuria, cystatin C, and serum creatinine) with mortality. SETTING & PARTICIPANTS: 922 HIV-infected persons enrolled in the FRAM (Fat Redistribution and Metabolic Change in HIV Infection) Study. PREDICTOR: Serum cystatin C and serum creatinine levels were used to estimate glomerular filtration rates (eGFR(SCysC) and eGFR(SCr), respectively). Albuminuria was defined as a positive urine dipstick result (≥ 1+) or urine albumin-creatinine ratio >30 mg/g. OUTCOME: 5-Year mortality. RESULTS: At baseline, decreased kidney function (eGFR(SCysC) <60 mL/min/1.73 m(2)) or albuminuria was present in 28% of participants. After 5 years of follow-up, mortality was 48% in those with both eGFR(SCysC) < 60 mL/min/1.73 m(2) and albuminuria, 23% in those with eGFR(SCysC) < 60 mL/min/1.73 m(2) alone, 20% in those with albuminuria alone, and 9% in those with neither condition. After multivariable adjustment for demographics, cardiovascular risk factors, HIV-related factors, and inflammatory marker levels, eGFR(SCysC) < 60 mL/min/1.73 m(2) and albuminuria were associated with a nearly 2-fold increase in mortality, whereas eGFR(SCr) < 60 mL/min/1.73 m(2) did not appear to have a substantial association with mortality. Together, eGFR(SCysC) <60 mL/min/1.73 m(2) and albuminuria accounted for 17% of the population-level attributable risk of mortality. LIMITATIONS: Vital status was unknown in 261 participants from the original cohort. CONCLUSIONS: Kidney disease marked by albuminuria or increased cystatin C level appears to be an important risk factor for mortality in HIV-infected individuals. A substantial proportion of this risk may be unrecognized because of the current reliance on serum creatinine to estimate kidney function in clinical practice.