The induction of heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) ameliorates oxidative stress and inflammatory process, which play important roles in IgA nephropathy. We hypothesized length polymorphism in the promoter region of the HO-1 gene, which is related to the level of gene transcription, is associated with disease severity of IgA nephropathy. The subjects comprised 916 patients with IgA nephropathy and gene data. Renal impairment was defined as an estimated glomerular filtration rate less than 60 mL/min/1.73 m(2) at diagnosis. The short (S: <23), medium (M: 23-28), and long (L: >28) (GT) repeats in the HO-1 gene was determined. The frequencies of S/S, S/M, M/M, S/L, L/M, and L/L genotypes were 7.2%, 6.9%, 3.1%, 30.8%, 22.7%, and 29.4%, respectively. The baseline characteristics were not different. In the S/S genotypic group, the renal impairment rate was 18.2%, which was lower than 32.2% in the group with M/M, L/M, or L/L genotype. The odds ratio of renal impairment in S/S genotype, compared to that in M/M, L/M, or L/L genotype, was 0.216 (95% confidence interval, 0.060-0.774, p=0.019). The HO-1 gene promoter length polymorphism was related to the renal impairment of IgA nephropathy at diagnosis, which is an important risk factor for mortality in IgA nephropathy patients.