Levels of soluble intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) were measured in serum samples taken at diagnosis from pediatric patients with Hodgkin's disease (n = 69), acute lymphoblastic leukemia (n = 28), Wilms' tumor (n = 20), osteosarcoma (n = 17), rhabdomyosarcoma (n = 18), or Ewing's sarcoma (n = 15). Median levels of serum ICAM-1 were significantly higher in acute lymphoblastic leukemia and Hodgkin's disease than in controls and other malignancies. Levels were positively correlated with disease stage for patients with Hodgkin's disease, Ewing's sarcoma or Wilms' tumor, and with the frequency of relapse in Hodgkin's disease (P = .016). Serum levels were normal in all of 76 patients tested in remission. It remains to be determined whether increased serum ICAM-1 levels simply reflect a greater tumor burden or whether this molecule contributes directly to the progression of childhood malignancies.