This study determined the levels of serum soluble intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (sICAM-1) and soluble vascular cell adhesion molecular-1 (sVCAM-1) in patients with different types of Keshan disease (KD), examined the relationship between Coxsackie B virus-specific IgM antibody (CBV-IgM) and sICAM-1 or sVCAM-1 in KD patients, and investigated the role of these adhesion molecules in the pathogenesis of KD and their clinical implications. The levels of serum sICAM-1, sVCAM-1 and CBV-IgM were measured by using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay in 22 patients with chronic Keshan disease (CKD), 27 with latent Keshan disease (LKD) and 28 healthy controls. The subjects in different groups were adjusted for sex and age. Echocardiography was adopted to determine left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) in 22 patients with CKD. The results showed that CKD patients had significantly higher levels of sICAM-1 and sVCAM-1 than LKD patients and healthy controls (P<0.01 for all). And there was significant difference in the levels of the 2 adhesion molecules between LKD patients and healthy controls (P<0.05). A negative correlation was found between LVEF and sICAM-1 or sVCAM-1 in CKD patients. The percentage of CBV-specific IgM positive individuals in KD patients was significantly higher than that of healthy controls. In CVB-specific IgM positive patients, the levels of serum sICAM-1 and sVCAM-1 were significantly greater than those in CBV-specific IgM negative counterpart. It was concluded that the increase in the levels of sICAM-1 and sVCAM-1 suggests the progression of inflammation in KD. sICAM-1 and sVCAM-1 can promote the development of myocardial pathology and lead to poor myocardial function. The increased serum sICAM-1 and sVCAM-1 in KD patients may be related to CBV infection.