Based upon the clinical presentation of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), we hypothesized that proinflammatory cytokines may play a role in the pathogenesis of the disease. We therefore undertook a retrospective cross-sectional study to examine the role of TNF-alpha in patients with CFS. Our results suggest a significant increase serum TNF-alpha in patients with CFS (P<0.0001) compared to non-CFS controls. This study supports the further examination of the role of proinflammatory mediators in CFS. Furthermore, the clinical testing of TNF-alpha blockers and other antiinflammatory agents for the treatment of this disease is warranted.