The clinical significance of interleukin 2 receptor (IL2R) concentrations in serum was determined for 344 children with newly diagnosed acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Serum levels of IL2R in patients (267 to 80,000 U/mL, median 2,007 U/mL) were significantly higher than normal control values (170 to 738 U/mL, median 347 U/mL) (P less than .0001). Measurements in cases of T cell ALL were lower than in the non-T, non-B cases (P = .02). Among the 264 patients with non-T, non-B ALL, but not in those with T cell disease, higher serum IL2R levels (greater than 2,000 U/mL) were associated with a poorer treatment outcome (P = .04). In a multivariate analysis, serum IL2R level contributed independent prognostic information beyond that conveyed by leukocyte count, race, and age (P = .04). One explanation for these results is that soluble IL2R competes with normal lymphocyte- integrated IL2R for the ligand and thus could suppress host antitumor immunity.