Infection with any 1 of 4 dengue viruses produces a spectrum of clinical illness ranging from a mild undifferentiated febrile illness to dengue fever (DF) to dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF), a potentially life-threatening disease. The morbidity and mortality of DHF can be reduced by early hospitalization and careful supportive care. To determine its usefulness as a predictor of DHF, plasma levels of the secreted dengue virus nonstructural protein NS1 (sNS1) were measured daily in 32 children with dengue-2 virus infections participating in a prospective, hospital-based study. Free sNS1 levels in plasma correlated with viremia levels and were higher in patients with DHF than in those with DF. An elevated free sNS1 level (> or =600 ng/mL) within 72 h of illness onset identified patients at risk for developing DHF.