Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) patients often report symptom flare (SF) for >24 h after moderate exercise (post-ex). We hypothesized that SF is linked to increases in circulating cytokines and CD40 Ligand (CD40L). In 19 CFS patients and 17 controls, mental and physical fatigue and pain symptom ratings were obtained together with serum for 11 cytokines and CD40L before and at 0.5, 8, 24, and 48 h post-ex. Before exercise, CFS had lower CD40L (p<.05) but similar cytokines versus controls. In subgroups based on SF at 48 h, high SF patients (n=11) increased in IL-1beta, IL-12, IL-6, IL-8, IL-10, and IL-13 (p<.05) 8 h post-ex. Low SF patients (n=8) showed post-ex decreases in IL-10, IL-13, and CD40L, and controls decreased in IL-10, CD40L, and TNFalpha (p<.05). Thus, in CFS, cytokine activity may vary directly with SF, which may explain prior inconsistent findings.