Aboriginal communities in Northern Australia with high rates of group A streptococcal (GAS) skin infection in childhood also have high rates of renal failure in adult life. In a cross-sectional study of one such high risk community, albuminuria was used as a marker of renal disease. The prevalence of albuminuria increased from 0/52 in subjects aged 10–19 years to 10/29 (32·9%) in those aged 50 or more (P<0·001). Antibodies to streptococcal M protein, markers of past GAS infection, were present in 48/52 (92%) at ages 10–19 years, 16/32 (50%) at ages 30–39, and 20/29 (69%) in those aged 50 or more. After allowing for the age-dependencies of albuminuria and of M protein antibodies (P<0·001) albuminuria was significantly associated with M protein antibodies (P<0·01). Thus, 72% of adults aged 30 or more with M protein antibodies also had albuminuria, compared with only 21% of those who were seronegative. More detailed modelling suggested that although most Aboriginal people in this community developed M protein antibodies following GAS infection in childhood, the development of proteinuria was associated with the persistence of such seropositivity into adult life. The models predicted that proteinuria developed at a mean age of 30 years in seropositive persons, at 45 years in seronegative persons who were overweight, and at 62 years in seronegative persons of normal weight. We demonstrated a clear association between evidence of childhood GAS infection and individual risk of proteinuria in adult life. This study provided a strong rationale for prevention of renal disease through the more effective control of GAS skin infections in childhood and through the prevention of obesity in adult life.