The usefulness of routine serum protein electrophoresis (SPEP) and urine protein electrophoresis (UPEP) screening in the evaluation of proteinuria is not known. The data on the clinical utility of these tests in 165 male patients with proteinuria greater than 3 g/d of protein who were screened for the presence of an M-spike are presented. Two hundred fifty-four studies were performed (SPEP, 155; UPEP 99) in these 165 patients. Twenty-four studies (9.8%) were positive for an M-spike (15 serum; 9 urine samples) in 19 patients (11.5%). Fourteen patients (8.5%) had an M-spike in either serum or urine, five patients (3%) in both studies. Two of these 19 patients were diagnosed with myeloma and 1 patient was diagnosed with primary amyloidosis. The other 16 patients were diagnosed with monoclonal gammopathy of unknown significance (MGUS). The group with a positive M-spike was significantly older (mean +/- SEM, 65 +/- 2 years; range, 39 to 78 years v 58 +/- 1 years; range, 25 to 84 years; P = 0.03), had a lower incidence of coexistent diabetes (21.1% v 61.6%; P = 0. 01), and a lower serum albumin level (3.2 v 3.6 g/dL; P = 0.05). Using a multivariable logistic regression model, the presence of an M band was positively correlated with age (odds ratio [OR], 1.056; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.006 to 1.108) and negatively correlated for serum albumin level (OR, 0.386; 95% CI, 0.184 to 0. 810), hematocrit (OR, 0.923; 95% CI, 0.852 to 1.001), and the presence of diabetes mellitus (OR, 0.128; 95% CI, 0.038 to 0.434). In summary, routine SPEP and UPEP screening in patients with proteinuria greater than 3 g/d of protein detected an M-spike in 11. 5% and myeloma in 1.2% of the patients. The cost per case of myeloma or MGUS discovered was $1,192.