To elevate the diagnostic value of the serum cytokeratin 19 fragment (CYFRA 21-1) and compare it with carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) and tissue polypeptide antigen (TPA) in bronchogenic carcinoma, the sera of 161 patients (58 with benign pulmonary disease and 103 with bronchogenic carcinoma) was investigated using immunoradiometric assay. Sensitivities for CYFRA 21-1, CEA and TPA (using 3.5 ng ml-1, 5.0 ng ml-1, 110 U l-1, respectively, cut-off values corresponding to a 95% specificity for benign pulmonary disease) in bronchogenic carcinoma were 64, 47 and 61%, respectively. Positive CYFRA 21-1 levels were identified in 75% of patients with squamous cell carcinoma (n = 36), in 67% with adenocarcinoma (n = 45), in 17% with large cell carcinoma (n = 6), and in 50% with small cell lung cancer (SCLC) (n = 16). However, CYFRA 21-1 levels were not significantly different between squamous cell carcinoma and the other histological types. The sensitivity of the combined measurement of CYFRA 21-1 with any other tumour marker was significantly higher than that of CYFRA 21-1 measurement alone. Elevated CYFRA 21-1 levels were observed in 44% of Stages I and II (n = 18) and 72% of Stage III and IV (n = 69) patients with non-small cell lung cancer (P < 0.05). A significant inter-marker correlation was observed between CYFRA 21-1 and TPA (n = 103, r = 0.448, P < 0.0001). Twenty-one patients were monitored by CYFRA 21-1, and significantly different changes in progressive patients (P = 0.0058) and regressive patients (P = 0.016) were obtained. These results indicate that CYFRA 21-1 may be not only a sensitive tumour marker in the diagnosis of bronchogenic carcinoma, but also a useful marker for the monitoring of bronchogenic carcinoma.