BACKGROUND: To determine the frequency of chronic kidney disease (CKD) and its associated risk factors in Chinese type 2 diabetic patients, we conducted a cross-sectional study in Nanjing, China, in the period between January 2008 and December 2009. METHODS: Patients with type 2 diabetes under the care by Jiangsu Province Official Hospital, Nanjing, China were invited for assessment. CKD was defined as the presence of albuminuria or estimated glomerular filtration rate <60 mL/min/1.73 m2. Albuminuria was defined as urinary albumin-to-creatinine ratio > or =30 mg/g. RESULTS: We recruited 1,521 urban Chinese patients with type 2 diabetes (mean age, 63.9+/-12.0 years). The frequency of CKD and albuminuria was 31.0% and 28.9%, respectively. After adjusted by age and sex, hypertension, anemia and duration of diabetes were significantly associated with CKD with odds ratio (95% confidence interval) being 1.93 (1.28 to 2.93), 1.70 (1.09 to 2.64), and 1.03 (1.00 to 1.06), respectively. CONCLUSION: In conclusion, CKD was common in the urban Nanjing Chinese with type 2 diabetes. Strategies to prevent or delay progression of kidney disease in diabetes should be carried out at the early disease course of type 2 diabetes.