In order to evaluate the use of recently developed assays of bone metabolism in multiple myeloma we performed a histomorphometric study of bone biopsies in 16 myeloma patients. Furthermore, we measured the levels of interleukin-6 (IL-6), soluble IL-6 receptor (IL-6sR), IL-1beta, tumour necrosis factor (TNF) alpha, TNFbeta, and transforming growth factor (TGF) beta in marrow plasma aspirated from the biopsy area. MARKERS OF BONE RESORPTION: The N-terminal telopeptide of collagen I (Ntx) in urine showed a strong positive correlation with the dynamic histomorphometric indices of bone resorption (r=0.68-0.72). Slightly weaker correlations were observed between the dynamic indices of bone resorption and the C-terminal telopeptide of collagen I (ICTP) in serum (r= 0.57-0.62) and deoxypyridinoline (Dpyr) in urine (r= 0.54), whereas urinary pyridinoline (Pyr) did not correlate with the histomorphometric findings. MARKERS OF BONE FORMATION: Serum C-terminal propeptide of procollagen I (PICP) and serum bone-specific alkaline phosphatase (bAP) showed significant correlations with the dynamic parameters of bone formation (r=0.57-0.58), whereas serum osteocalcin and serum total AP did not. CYTOKINES: Highly significant correlations were observed between marrow IL-6 and rates of bone resorption and activation frequency (r=0.76-0.82) and with serum ICTP (r=0.63). Minor, but also significant correlations were observed between the resorptive indices and IL-6sR and IL-1beta. The data indicate that measurements of the biochemical markers of bone metabolism may be useful in monitoring myeloma bone disease, and might thus be of use for dose titration of bisphosphonate therapy.