The relation between interleukin-6 (IL-6) levels and changes in serum concentrations and glycosylation (concanavalin A affinity) of two human acute-phase glycoproteins, alpha 1-acid glycoprotein (AGP) and alpha 1-protease inhibitor (PI), was studied in sequential serum samples of burn patients. The level of IL-6 was already increased at the first day following injury, and after a dip at day 2 or 3 rapidly reached a second maximal value at day 4 or 5. The serum concentrations of AGP and PI reached their maximal values after day 5 and remained at a high level throughout the total period studied (7 weeks). The concanavalin A reactivities of both acute-phase glycoproteins were found to be elevated only during the first 2-2.5 weeks. Maximal values were observed on day 2 and from day 7 to 16, following closely the rise and fall of the IL-6 serum level. After day 16, the concanavalin A affinity rapidly declined long before a decrease was observed in the serum concentrations of AGP and PI. Our previous in vitro studies have indicated an involvement of IL-6 in the induction of both secretion and increased concanavalin A affinity. This study indicates that IL-6 could play a causal role in the induction of both phenomena in vivo.