Differential diagnosis of hepatic complications after bone marrow transplantation (BMT) is often difficult. To assess whether serum concentrations of the aminopropeptide of type III procollagen (PIIINP) could facilitate diagnosis, we measured serum PIIINP, corrected for age by conversion to standard deviation scores (SDS), serially after BMT in 27 children. A preliminary study of 11 patients showed that a PNIIINP-SDS cutoff of 8.0 was an optimum for diagnosis of veno-occlusive disease (VOD). PIIINP-SDS was increased above cut-off 1-25 days before the onset of clinical signs in the 12 patients (4 from the preliminary group, the others from a group of 16 studied prospectively) who developed VOD, with subsequent changes in PIIINP-SDS mirroring the course of VOD. By contrast, PIIINP-SDS remained below cut-off in all other patients, including 7 with liver graft-versus-host disease and 3 with drug hepatotoxicity. PIIINP-SDS values greater than 8.0 predict, diagnose, and monitor VOD after BMT.