BACKGROUND: Atherosclerosis is considered the major cause of the dramatic increase in cardiovascular mortality among patients suffering from chronic kidney disease (CKD). Although the close connection between atherosclerosis and kidney dysfunction is undeniable, factors enhancing CKD-mediated plaque formation are still not well recognized. RESULTS: To increase our knowledge of this process we carried out a comparative proteomic analysis of blood plasma proteins isolated from 75 patients in various stages of renal dysfunction (CKD group), 25 patients with advanced cardiovascular disease (CVD group) and 25 healthy volunteers (HV group). The collected samples were subjected to 2D electrophoresis. Then, individual proteins were identified by mass spectrometry. The comparative analysis involving CKD and HV groups showed a differential accumulation of alpha-1-microglobulin, apolipoprotein A-IV, gamma-fibrinogen and haptoglobin in patients with kidney disease. Exactly the same proteins were identified as differentially expressed when proteomes of CVD patients and HV were compared. However, a direct comparison of CKD and CVD groups revealed significant differences in the accumulation of two proteins: alpha-1-microglobulin and apolipoprotein A-IV. CONCLUSIONS: The obtained results indicate that at least two processes differentially contribute to the plaque formation in CKD- and CVD-mediated atherosclerosis. It seems that the inflammatory process is more intense in CKD patients. On the other hand, the down- and up-regulation of apolipoprotein A-IV in CVD and CKD groups, respectively, suggests that substantial differences exist in the efficacy of cholesterol transport in both groups of patients.