Objectives. To assess prevalence of positive urinary dipstick analysis for leucocyte esterase, nitrite, haemoglobin, or glucose in the general population and measure the urinary albumin excretion rate (UAER) in subjects with or without a positive dipstick analysis. Design. A cross-sectional study of 3645 subjects. Setting. An unselected urban population study. Main outcome measures. Prevalence data of positive dipstick analyses and UAER values. Results. Prevalence data of a positive dipstick analysis were 12%, 4%, 3% and 6%, respectively, for leucocyte esterase, nitrite, haemoglobin, and glucose. Subjects with any positive dipstick analysis had significantly higher UAER than subjects with a negative analysis: 4.9 (4.4-5.3) (geometric mean (95% confidence interval)) vs 3.0 (2.9-3.1) mg 24 h-1 (p < 0.001). Conclusions. Prevalence data of positive urinary dipstick analyses in a large population based study are provided. Subjects with any positive finding had higher UAER than controls. Exclusion of subjects with a positive finding is recommended in studies of UAER as a cardiovascular risk factor in non-diabetic subjects.