The aims of this study were (1) to assess possible variations in the serum levels of epidermal growth factor (EGF), insulin-like growth factor I (IGF I) and somatostatin in patients with pancreatic cancer as compared to other pancreatic or extrapancreatic diseases and (2) to ascertain the role of these substances in tumour growth and spread. 35 patients with pancreatic cancer were compared to 15 patients with chronic pancreatitis, 15 with benign hepatobiliary diseases, 23 with benign or malignant gastro-intestinal diseases and 22 control subjects. Increased EGF and IGF I serum levels were found in 10% of patients with pancreatic cancer. Somatostatin levels were increased in 8/16 (50%) patients with pancreatic cancer. No correlation was found between EGF, IGF I or somatostatin and tumour size or stage. In pancreatic cancer somatostatin serum levels were correlated with total bilirubin (p < 0.04), while EGF and IGF I were inversely correlated with fasting serum glucose levels (p < 0.05). In conclusion, (1) the serum levels of EGF, IGF I and somatostatin were not related to tumour size and clinical stage of pancreatic cancer, (2) the serum levels EGF and IGF I may be related to altered glucose metabolism, and (3) liver impairment can influence somatostatin serum levels.