We studied 60 patients with ANCA-positive systemic vasculitis (SV) to assess the prognostic significance of clinical and serological features at presentation, and the value of sequential monitoring of ANCA, C-reactive protein (CRP) and ESR levels as predictors of disease relapse. Patients were recruited at the time of diagnosis, treated with a standard protocol, and assessed monthly for one year. Clinical remission was achieved in 56/60 (93%), and ANCA became undetectable in 50/60 (83%) after treatment. During the one year follow-up period, disease relapses were seen in 23 (38%) patients. No specific associations were observed between initial disease presentation, initial ANCA level or ANCA antigenic specificity and relapse. However, 13/23 (57%) of relapses were preceded by a rise in ANCA a mean of 7.8 weeks earlier, while at the time of relapse 19/23 (83%) were ANCA-positive. Rises in CRP and ESR occurred in 23/60 (38%) and 14/43 (33%), respectively, but were less closely associated with relapse than ANCA. A sustained rise in ANCA was seen in six patients without relapse while clinical relapse occurred with a negative ANCA in four. Sequential ANCA monitoring at monthly intervals during disease remission is of value, at least during the first year, in the prediction and diagnosis of relapse in SV, and is superior to measurement of CRP or ESR.