Plasma concentrations of big endothelin-1 were determined by ELISA in 18 patients with complicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria in Bangkok. Before therapy, elevated levels were recorded (21 +/- 12 vs. 2.9 +/- 1.1 pmol/L in age- and sex-matched healthy subjects; P < .001). Even 7 days after therapy, elevated concentrations were seen (25 +/- 14 pmol/L). Plasma endothelin levels were correlated with levels of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (r = .632, P < .01), and a negative correlation with platelet counts was seen (r = .783, P < .005). No relation between plasma endothelin concentrations and parasitemia, fever, or other indices of severe infection (hypotension, renal, hepatic or pulmonary impairment, cerebral malaria) existed. During and after complicated malaria, increased levels of plasma endothelin could contribute to malarial pathology or reflect endothelial damage or both.