Midkine (MDK), a heparin-binding growth factor cytokine, is involved in the pathogenesis of kidney diseases by augmenting leukocyte trafficking and activation. Animal models and small case control studies have implicated MDK as a pathological biomarker in chronic kidney diseases (CKD), however this is yet to be confirmed in prospective human studies. In a prospective study of 499 elderly, predominantly Caucasian women aged over 70 years the association between serum MDK collected in 1998, and renal function change and the risk of CKD-related hospitalisations and deaths at 5 and 14.5 years, respectively, was examined. Baseline serum MDK was not associated with 5-year change in estimated glomerular filtration rate using the CKD Epidemiology Collaboration creatinine and cystatin C equation (Standardised β = − 0.09, 95% confidence interval − 3.76–0.48, p = 0.129), 5-year rapid decline in renal function (odds ratio = 0.97, 95% confidence interval 0.46–2.02, p = 0.927) or the risk of 14.5-year CKD-related hospitalisations and deaths (hazard ratio = 1.27, 95% confidence interval.66–2.46, p = 0.470) before or after adjusting for major risk factors. In conclusion, in this cohort of elderly women with normal or mildly impaired renal function, serum MDK was not associated with renal function change or future CKD-related hospitalisations and deaths, suggesting that MDK may not be an early biomarker for progression of CKD.