AIM: To evaluate the prevalence and treatment of cardiovascular disease and traditional cardiovascular disease risk factors in Australian adults with renal insufficiency. METHODS: The Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle Study was a cross-sectional survey of Australian adults undertaken in 1999-2000. Participants were categorized based on the Cockcroft-Gault estimated glomerular filtration rate in terms of normal renal function (<60 mL/min per 1.73 m(2)) and renal insufficiency (<60 mL/min per 1.73 m(2)). Outcome measures were the prevalence of cardiovascular disease, estimated risk of cardiovascular disease (20% over 10 years) and traditional cardiovascular risk factors, and frequency of pharmacological treatment of traditional cardiovascular risk factors. RESULTS: Among adults with renal insufficiency, cardiovascular disease was present in 29.4 (95% CI: 25.1-33.6) per 100, with an additional 47.9 (95% CI: 44.9-50.9) per 100 having an estimated risk of cardiovascular disease (20% over 10 years). At least one cardiovascular risk factor was present in 90.1%. Hypertension and type 2 diabetes mellitus were three times more frequent, while hyperlipidaemia was nearly twice as frequent in those participants with renal insufficiency. Of those with renal insufficiency, 58.2% with hypertension were treated, with only 14.5% of this group being treated to current recommended target levels of blood pressure, while only 32.5% with hyperlipidaemia were treated, with 7.4% of this group being treated to target lipid levels. CONCLUSION: The present study demonstrates significant scope to reduce the high burden of cardiovascular risk factors in Australian adults with renal insufficiency in the general community, through treatment of traditional risk factors for cardiovascular disease.