Fibronectin is a glycoprotein found in body fluids, loose connective tissue matrix and in basement membranes. Fibronectin in pleural effusion was found to be immunologically indistinguishable from the plasma form, as shown by double-diffusion analysis. Fibronectin isolated from pleural fluid by affinity chromatography on gelatin-Sepharose had a polypeptide pattern similar to that of plasma fibronectin in SDS-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. In 28 patients with infectious or non-specific pleural effusion fibronectin concentrations in pleural fluid were 335 +/- 104 micrograms/ml (mean +/- SD), in 15 patients with malignant disease the concentrations were 369 +/- 173 micrograms/ml and in 26 patients with tuberculosis 441 +/- 103 micrograms/ml. The highest concentrations, 605 +/- 252 micrograms/ml, of fibronectin in pleural fluid were detected in 14 patients with connective tissue diseases. The results suggest that increased fibronectin concentrations reflect the presence of a pleurisy due to connective tissue disease or tuberculosis rather than other infectious or malignant disease.