Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death in renal transplant recipients (RTR). Elevated plasma asymmetric dimethylarginine (pADMA), an endogenous nitric oxide synthase inhibitor produced from the turnover of methylated arginine moieties in proteins, is a risk factor for CVD and mortality. It is unknown how urinary ADMA excretion (uADMA), one of the main ADMA elimination routes, is associated with long-term survival. Furthermore, the association of pADMA and uADMA with markers for turnover of arginine-methylated proteins is unknown. We analyzed ADMA using a validated GC–MS/MS method in plasma and 24-h urine samples of 685 RTR, included ≥ 1 year after transplantation. We also analyzed urine symmetric dimethylarginine (uSDMA) using the same method. Urinary creatinine and urea excretions were used as markers for turnover of muscle protein and amino acids, respectively. We applied Cox regression analyses to study associations of pADMA, uADMA, and uSDMA with all-cause and CVD mortality. Mean pADMA was 0.61 ± 0.12 µM, uADMA was 31 ± 13 µmol/24 h, and uSDMA was 52 ± 19 µmol/24 h. Over median follow-up of 5.4 [4.9–6.1] years, 147 RTR died, of which 58 (39%) from CVD. High pADMA was associated with high all-cause mortality (HR per SD [95% CI]: 1.45 [1.26–1.67], P < 0.001), while high uADMA was associated with low all-cause and CVD mortality (HR per SD [95% CI]: 0.57 [0.47–0.69], P < 0.001, and 0.55 [0.40–0.74], P < 0.001, respectively). The associations were independent of adjustment for potential confounders. Creatinine excretion was associated with both pADMA (st. β:− 0.21, P = 0.003) and uADMA (st. β: 0.49, P < 0.001), and urea excretion was associated with uADMA (st. β: 0.56, P < 0.001). Associations of uSDMA with outcomes and with creatinine excretion and urea excretion were comparable to those of uADMA. The associations of pADMA, uADMA and uSDMA with mortality were strongly affected by adjustment for creatinine excretion and urea excretion. We found for the first time that high uADMA and high uSDMA are associated with less risk of all-cause and CVD mortality. The links of uADMA and uSDMA with markers of muscle protein and amino acid turnover may serve to further understand ADMA and SDMA homeostasis and their clinical implications.