BACKGROUND: Health-related quality of life and estimates of utility have been carefully evaluated in persons with end-stage renal disease. Fewer studies have examined these parameters in persons with chronic kidney disease (CKD). METHODS: To determine the relations among kidney function, health-related quality of life, and estimates of utility, we administered the Kidney Disease Quality of Life Short Form 36 (KDQOL-36), Health Utilities Index (HUI)-3, and Time Trade-off (TTO) questionnaires to 205 persons with CKD. Persons with CKD stages 4 and 5 (estimated GFR <30 mL/min/1.73 m2, N= 115) were tested two to eight times over the subsequent two years. The relations among estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR), and changes in health-related quality of life and utility over time were estimated using mixed effect regression models. Models were adjusted for age, sex, race, and diabetes. RESULTS: Mean scores on the KDQOL-36 generic components, HUI-3, and TTO suggested considerable loss of function and well-being in CKD relative to population norms. On cross-sectional analysis, lower levels of kidney function were associated with significantly lower scores on the SF-12 Physical Health Composite (P= 0.002), the Burden of Kidney Disease subscale (P < 0.0001), and the Effects of Kidney Disease subscale (P < 0.0001) of the KDQOL-36trade mark. Kidney function was significantly associated with the TTO (P= 0.008) and global HUI-3 utility (P= 0.016) although these associations were attenuated after adjustment for diabetes. A decline in eGFR was associated with a significant increase in the reported Burden of Kidney Disease (5.0 point change per year per mL/min/1.73 m2 decline in eGFR) and with marginally significant changes in the Dexterity and Pain attributes of the HUI-3. Mean HUI-3 scores for persons with CKD stages 4 and 5, absent dialysis, were in the range previously reported for persons with stroke and severe peripheral vascular disease. CONCLUSION: Health-related quality of life and estimates of utility are distressingly low in persons with CKD. Self-reported outcomes should be considered when evaluating health policy decisions that affect this population.