Admission laboratory data of 203 patients suffering from acute pancreatitis were analysed to search for a simpler method of prediction of severity than the traditional multifactor prognostic scoring system. By discriminant analysis, admission serum urea and plasma glucose were identified to be factors with independent significance in predicting severity. If the presence of either factor higher than the cutoff point (urea greater than 7.4 mmol/l, glucose greater than 11.0 mmol/l) was considered as an indication of severe disease, then the sensitivity of this method was 75.0%, specificity 80.3% and the accuracy 79.3%. The predictive ability of this method was comparable with the Glasgow multifactor scoring system when the latter was also used to grade severity of our patients. It has the advantage, however, of simplicity and the ability of predicting severity at the time of admission.