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To determine bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid concentrations of keratinocyte growth factor (KGF) and hepatocyte growth factor (HGF), two potent growth factors for alveolar type II epithelial cells, in patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).Prospective study.An adult trauma/surgical intensive care unit in an urban teaching hospital.A total of 32 ventilated patients with pulmonary infiltrates prospectively identified with ARDS (n = 17) or without ARDS (n = 15), including eight patients with hydrostatic edema (HE), and ten nonventilated patients serving as controls.None.BAL was performed 2.88 days ± 2.4, 3.5 days ± 2.4, and 2.3 days ± 2.2 after the lung insult in ARDS, HE, and other non-ARDS patients respectively (p = .32). KGF was detected in BAL fluid in 13 of the 17 ARDS patients (median, 31.6 pg/mL), in one patient with HE, and in none of other non-ARDS patients. In ARDS patients, detection of KGF in BAL was associated in BAL fluid with the detection of type III procollagen peptide (PIIIP), a biological marker of fibroproliferation. In ARDS patients, detection of KGF in BAL was associated with death (p = .02). HGF was detected in 15 ARDS patients (median, 855 pg/mL), in seven patients with HE (median, 294 pg/mL;p = .05 for the comparison with ARDS group), in six of other non-ARDS patients (median, 849 pg/mL;p = .32 with ARDS group). HGF concentrations were higher in nonsurvivors than in survivors (p = .01). None of the ten BAL of controls contained either KGF or HGF.KGF was detected almost exclusively in BAL fluid from ARDS patients and correlated with a poor prognosis in this group. In contrast, HGF was detected in the BAL fluid from a majority of patients with or without ARDS. Elevated HGF concentrations were associated with a poor prognosis in the overall group.