One of the classic histologic forms of renal osteodystrophy is osteitis fibrosa, and its distinguishing characteristic is bone marrow (BM) fibrosis, caused by the activation of marrow parenchymal cells. A bone biopsy must be performed in order to establish the diagnosis of renal osteodystrophy. The clinical use of bone biopsy is restricted, however, due to the invasiveness of the procedure. In recent studies, bone scans have provided information useful for the differential diagnosis between osteomalacia and osteitis fibrosa. However, bone scans can not provide information on the bone marrow status. Bone marrow immunoscintigraphy (BMIS) using Tc-99m anti-granulocyte antibody (AGA), a highly sensitive test for the detection of bone marrow abnormalities which is also a noninvasive method, has rarely been reported in chronic renal failure (CRF). BMIS can provide information in patients with myelofibrosis. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the usefulness of BMIS in CRF patients with special regards to biochemical parameters. Nineteen CRF patients (13 men, 6 women; mean age: 48 +/- 11 years) in whom bone scintigraphy using Tc-99m MDP (methylene diphosphonate) showed the so-called superscan pattern were included in the study. Their primary renal diseases were chronic glomerulonephritis (n = 14), diabetes (n = 4), and polycystic kidney disease (n = 1). Modes of therapies were continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (CAPD) (n = 13; mean duration: 9.5 months), HD (n = 5; mean duration: 7.8 months), and conservative treatment (n = 1). BMIS using Tc-99m labeled anti-granulocyte monoclonal mouse antibody BW250/183 was performed, and the results were compared with the biochemical parameters of the patients. According to the presence of BM expansion, which may represent marrow fibrosis, the 19 patients were divided into two groups: Group I (n = 7) with BM expansion and Group II (n = 12) with normal marrow distribution. The biochemical parameters and bone markers of Group I were compared with those of Group II. There was no significant difference in biochemical parameters (blood hemoglobin, serum ferritin, erythropoietin, BUN, creatinine) between the two groups. There were no significants difference in serum calcium, phosphorus, tartate-resistant acid phosphatase (TRAP), and intact parathyroid hormone (iPTH) between the two groups. Serum alkaline phosphatase (ALP) and osteocalcin were significantly (P < 0.05) higher in Group I than in Group II. These results suggest that patients with bone marrow expansion in BMIS have increased levels of ALP and osteocalcin, indicating an increased osteoblastic activity. BMIS may be useful for the detection of bone marrow expansion due to marrow fibrosis in renal osteodystrophy, and for the evaluation of the extent of bone marrow fibrosis.