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I need to associate some groups or attributes to a SharePoint user and be able to query for those, maybe by using the _vti_bin/UserGroup.asmx or /_vti_bin/UserProfileService.asmx.

Is this possible in SharePoint 2010? I'm thinking about the User Profile Service Application -> Manage User Properties section. Is that the place or is there something easier?

I would think a custom list with the user as a first column and a list of groups/attributes as a second column would be a possible workaround but maybe there's something out of the box?

Could I have those groups read from Active Directory?

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To achieve this, You can add custom properties to a user profile . Check this out :

You can also map Active Directory attribute to a user profile property.Check this out :

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