To examine whether gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM), independent of subsequent diabetes, is an early risk factor for renal impairment long term after the index pregnancy. In the Diabetes & Women’s Health (DWH) study (2012-2016), we examined the independent and joint associations of GDM and subsequent diabetes with long-term renal function among 607 women with and 619 women without GDM in the Danish National Birth Cohort (DNBC) index pregnancy (1996-2002). At median follow-up of 13 years after the index pregnancy, serum creatinine (mg/dL) and urinary albumin (mg/L) and creatinine (mg/dL) were measured, from which estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) (mL/min/1.73 m2) and urinary albumin-to-creatinine ratio (UACR) (mg/g) were derived. Compared with women without GDM or subsequent diabetes, women with a GDM history had significantly higher eGFR even if they had not subsequently developed diabetes (adjusted β-coefficient [95% CI] = 3.3 [1.7, 5.0]). Women who had a GDM history and later developed diabetes (n = 183) also had significantly higher UACR [exponent β = 1.3 [95% CI 1.1, 1.6]) and an increased risk of elevated UACR (≥20 mg/g) [adjusted relative risk [95% CI] = 2.3 [1.1, 5.9]) compared with women with neither. After adjusting for potential confounders including prepregnancy BMI and hypertension, GDM without subsequent diabetes was not related to UACR. Women who develop GDM in pregnancy were more likely to show increased eGFR levels 9-16 years postpartum, which could indicate early stages of glomerular hyperfiltration and renal damage. However, only those who subsequently developed diabetes showed overt renal damage as evidenced by elevated UACR.