Fifty-nine children with acute Kawasaki disease (KD), a childhood vasculitis, were compared with 35 children with fever due to infection and 48 healthy children. Levels of soluble E-selectin (sE-selectin), soluble intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (sICAM-1), and soluble vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (sVCAM-1) in the healthy children were double those found in adults. All three soluble cell adhesion molecules and von Willebrand factor (vWF) were higher in the children with KD than in the healthy children, but only sE-selectin, a marker for activated endothelial cells, and sICAM-1 were higher than in the febrile children. The high levels of vWF in KD appear to reflect the prominent acute-phase reaction. This information can help us to understand further the complex interactions between cytokines, circulating inflammatory cells and the vascular endothelium, and may lead to new therapeutic avenues in KD and other inflammatory diseases and vasculitides.