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Elevated urinary albumin excretion (UAE) is more frequent in patients with the metabolic syndrome or insulin resistance. Whether UAE predicts the development of diabetes mellitus, independently of the presence or the development of the metabolic syndrome, is unclear, in particular, in women.We prospectively assessed the association between baseline UAE and subsequent diabetes mellitus in participants selected from the general population.Four thousand and seventy-four nondiabetic patients (aged 30–64 years) included in the Data from an Epidemiological Study on the Insulin Resistance syndrome Study had a baseline UAE. Among them, 3851 patients had complete data regarding diabetes mellitus.Diabetes mellitus occurred in 171 out of 3851 patients during the 9-year follow-up (132/2056 men and 39/1795 women). UAE was associated with diabetes mellitus in a dose-dependent manner in men [as compared to men with UAE < 9 mg/l, hazard ratios were 1.81 (P = 0.0160), 1.83 (P = 0.0134), 2.31 (P = 0.0008) and 4.43 (P = 0.0005) for men with UAE: 9–12 mg/l, 12–19 mg/l, 20–200 mg/l and >200 mg/l, respectively] but not in women; the association was more marked after exclusion of men with baseline impaired fasting glucose [hazard ratios were 3.28 (P = 0.0007), 3.08 (P = 0.0012), 3.27 (P = 0.0022), 9.23 (P < 0.0001), respectively]. The association remained significant after adjustments on BMI, sporting activity, diet, smoking, waist circumference, insulin and homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance, lipids, C-reactive protein and family of history of diabetes mellitus. Adjustment on the first 3-year change in weight, glucose, insulin and homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance did not modify the results.Elevated UAE predicts the 9-year risk of diabetes mellitus in men, independent of baseline or early development of metabolic abnormalities or insulin resistance.