Platelet activating factor (PAF) is synthesized and secreted by glomerular mesangial and endothelial cells. It increases glomerular basement membrane permeability and induces proteinuria. Leukotrienes (LT) are mediators released by either leukocytes or glomerular cells under the PAF effect. The possible role of PAF in steroid sensitive nephrotic syndrome (SSNS) of childhood was studied in 8 children with SSNS in the acute stage, 5 children in remission and 8 healthy controls. The PAF concentrations in urine and plasma were determined. Leukocytes were stimulated in vitro and the LT release in response to stimulation was determined. The urinary and plasma concentrations of PAF were significantly higher in the acute phase than in remission and in control patients. Children with SSNS were found to have peripheral leukocytes with increased LT releasing activity in vitro. These results are in accordance with clinical and experimental observations indicating that PAF originates in the kidney and plays a role in normal kidney physiology. Urinary PAF concentrations may be related to proteinuria because they were strongly correlated in the present study. Elevated plasma PAF concentrations in the acute stage of SSNS could result from either its secretion from the circulating leukocytes or decreased acetyl hidrolase activity needed for its hydrolysis in plasma. The increased LT release in vitro suggests that these cells might have been activated by PAF secreted from glomeruli. It is proposed that PAF and different LT in systemic and glomerular circulation are important mediators in childhood SSNS.