Relatively few U.S.-based studies in chronic kidney disease have focused on Asian/Pacific Islanders. Clinical reports suggest that Asian/Pacific Islanders are more likely to be affected by IgA nephropathy (IgAN), and that the severity of disease is increased in these populations.To explore whether these observations are borne out in a multi-ethnic, tertiary care renal pathology practice, we examined clinical and pathologic data on 298 patients with primary glomerular lesions (IgAN, focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, membranous nephropathy and minimal change disease) at the University of California San Francisco Medical Center from November 1994 through May 2001. Pathologic assessment of native kidney biopsies with IgAN was conducted using Haas' classification system.Among individuals with IgAN (N = 149), 89 (60%) were male, 57 (38%) white, 53 (36%) Asian/Pacific Islander, 29 (19%) Hispanic, 4 (3%) African American and 6 (4%) were of other or unknown ethnicity. The mean age was 37 +/- 14 years and median serum creatinine 1.7 mg/dL. Sixty-six patients (44%) exhibited nephrotic range proteinuria at the time of kidney biopsy. The distributions of age, gender, mean serum creatinine, and presence or absence of nephrotic proteinuria and/or hypertension at the time of kidney biopsy were not significantly different among white, Hispanic, and Asian/Pacific Islander groups. Of the 124 native kidney biopsies with IgAN, 10 (8%) cases were classified into Haas subclass I, 12 (10%) subclass II, 23 (18%) subclass III, 30 (25%) subclass IV, and 49 (40%) subclass V. The distribution of Haas subclass did not differ significantly by race/ethnicity. In comparison, among the random sample of patients with non-IgAN glomerular lesions (N = 149), 77 (52%) patients were male, 51 (34%) white, 42 (28%) Asian/Pacific Islander, 25 (17%) Hispanic, and 30 (20%) were African American.With the caveats of referral and biopsy biases, the race/ethnicity distribution of IgAN differs significantly from that of other major glomerulonephridities. However, among individuals undergoing native kidney biopsy, we see no evidence of a race/ethnicity association with severity of disease in IgAN by clinical and IgAN-specific histopathologic criteria. Further studies are needed to identify populations at higher risk for progressive disease in IgAN.