Single analyses of peripheral blood of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients showed a significant reduction in the mean value for keratan sulfate (KS) compared with that in control subjects, but the mean value for orosomucoid (OM) was elevated compared with that in control subjects. Some RA patients displayed highly elevated levels of hyaluronic acid (HA), while others exhibited normal levels. There was a significant inverse correlation between OM and KS content in RA patients, as well as a direct correlation between HA and OM. In longitudinal studies of RA patients, parallel changes in OM and HA and inverse changes between KS and OM or HA were commonly observed. Clinical analyses revealed that there was an inverse correlation between KS and morning stiffness, and direct correlations between the number of tender joints and HA, and between HA or the erythrocyte sedimentation rate and the number of joints with effusions. The reason(s) for the inverse correlation between KS and OM as an index of systemic inflammation remains to be established. Circulating HA represents an index of joint inflammation, for which a marker has not been previously available.