Laminin is a major basement membrane-associated, non-collagenous glycoprotein of the extracellular matrix and is deposited in the space of Disse during sinusoidal capillarisation. Laminin P1, a pepsin-resistant fragment originating from the central portion of the cross-shaped laminin molecule, is detectable in serum and has been related to liver fibrosis and portal hypertension. In this study we investigated the behaviour of serum laminin P1, measured by radioimmunoassay, in a homogeneous group of 95 patients suffering from chronic viral hepatitis, types C or B, in order to determine the relationships between serum laminin P1 and each of the main histological aspects of the disease process (i.e. portal-periportal activity, lobular activity and fibrosis), which were assigned numerical scores. Moreover, we computed, at several cut-off levels, the sensitivity, specificity and positive and negative predictive values of laminin P1 in detecting both necroinflammatory activity and fibrosis in the liver. The results show that serum laminin P1 levels parallel the severity of liver disease, the highest laminin concentrations being observed in cirrhotic patients. They suggest also that serum laminin P1 should be considered a marker of the liver disease process as a whole, rather than a marker exclusively linked to fibrosis. Nevertheless, the usefulness of serum laminin P1 measurement, as investigated in this study, seems too limited to be recommended for routine clinical practice.