Proinflammatory cytokines Interleukin-1 beta (IL-1 beta) and Interleukin-6 (IL-6) play a significant role in the pathogenetic processes related to various malignant and inflammatory conditions. Leukocytosis, thrombocytosis and increased acute phase protein levels are part of a systemic inflammatory response. In this study, we measured the concentrations of IL-1 beta, IL-6 and ferritin as well as hemoglobin, lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), C-reactive protein (CRP) and erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) in 23 patients (male 15, female 8, median age 68 years) with lung cancer and reactive thrombocytosis (LCRT), in 27 (male 18, female 9, median age 64 years) with benign inflammatory lung disorder (BILD) and 18 (male 10, female 8, median age 62 years) lung cancer patients with a normal platelet count (LCNP). IL-1 beta levels were significantly higher in the three patient groups in comparison with control subjects (P < 0.001) but without significant difference among the three patient groups. IL-6 was higher in all three patients groups but only in the BILD group it was significantly higher than the control group (P < 0.05). However, no significant difference in IL-6 serum levels was found between the two lung cancer groups. CRP and LDH were significantly higher in the LCRT group in comparison with the other two patient groups (P < 0.01 and 0.001, respectively), while ferritin was higher in both lung cancer groups in comparison with the BILD group (P < 0.001). Our data suggest that in lung cancer patients, reactive thrombocytosis is part of the systemic inflammatory reaction for which IL-1 beta and IL-6 may be intermediate but not independent mediators.