BACKGROUND: Identification of risk factors for and early diagnosis of clinically significant abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) before rupture is vital to optimize outcomes in these patients. Our aim was to examine traditional and three novel potential risk factors (abdominal obesity, white blood cell count, and kidney function) for abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA, comprising discharge diagnosis or surgical repair) in a large multiethnic population. METHODS: Cohort study (N =104,813) conducted at an integrated health care delivery system in northern California. RESULTS: After a median of 13 years, 605 AAA events (490 in men and 115 in women; 91 [15%] fatal) were observed. In multivariable analysis, factors significantly associated with risk of clinically detected AAA included male gender, older age, black race (inversely), low educational attainment, cigarette smoking (with dose-response relation), height, treated and untreated hypertension, high total serum cholesterol, elevated white blood cell count, known coronary artery disease, history of intermittent claudication, and reduced kidney function. A significant Asian race by gender interaction was found such that Asian race had a (borderline significant) protective association with AAA in men but not in women. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings confirm that major atherosclerotic risk factors, except for diabetes and obesity, are also prospectively related to AAA and suggest that elevated white blood cell count and reduced kidney function may improve risk stratification for clinically relevant AAA.