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To develop and validate a diagnostic score that assists in discriminating primary hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (pHLH) from macrophage activation syndrome (MAS) related to systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis.The clinical, laboratory, and histopathologic features of 362 patients with MAS and 258 patients with pHLH were collected in a multinational collaborative study. Eighty percent of the population was assessed to develop the score and the remaining 20% constituted the validation sample. Variables that entered the best fitted model of logistic regression were assigned a score, based on their statistical weight. The MAS/HLH (MH) score was made up with the individual scores of selected variables. The cutoff in the MH score that discriminated pHLH from MAS best was calculated by means of receiver operating characteristic curve analysis. Score performance was examined in both developmental and validation samples.Six variables composed the MH score: age at onset, neutrophil count, fibrinogen, splenomegaly, platelet count, and hemoglobin. The MH score ranged from 0 to 123, and its median value was 97 (1st-3rd quartile 75–123) and 12 (1st-3rd quartile 11–34) in pHLH and MAS, respectively. The probability of a diagnosis of pHLH ranged from <1% for a score of <11 to >99% for a score of ≥123. A cutoff value of ≥60 revealed the best performance in discriminating pHLH from MAS.The MH score is a powerful tool that may aid practitioners to identify patients who are more likely to have pHLH and, thus, could be prioritized for functional and genetic testing.