1. The accumulation in the lung of the plasma protein transferrin was determined in 44 patients with widespread pulmonary infiltrates of various causes and in 11 healthy volunteers using a double-isotope method based on labelling in vivo of circulating transferrin with indium and erythrocytes with technetium.
2. In 22 patients meeting criteria for the adult respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) the mean transferrin accumulation rate was threefold greater (P < 0.005) than in 22 patients not meeting these criteria, although most possessed an appropriate risk factor for ARDS, in addition to extensive radiographic changes.
3. The double-isotope method did not completely separate patients with ARDS from those not meeting the criteria or from control subjects and cannot be considered a diagnostic test for the condition. Statistically significant rates of transferrin accumulation, however, occurred more frequently in patients with ARDS (82%) than in controls (64%) or in those without ARDS (59%).