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AIMS--To evaluate serum glutathione S-transferase B1 (GST B1), a highly sensitive test of hepatocellular function, as a means of identifying liver disease in patients with cystic fibrosis (CF). METHODS--The presence of liver disease was sought over a three year period in 60 children with CF, using a combination of clinical assessment, ultrasound examination, conventional biochemical tests of liver function (LFTs), and measurement of GST B1. RESULTS--Reference ranges for serum GST B1 were established in a paediatric control population. The 95% value (4.55 micrograms/l) was similar to the upper limit of normal previously derived in adults. Mean (SE) serum GST B1 activities were higher in the CF population (9.0 (1.14) micrograms/l) than in age matched controls (2.4 (0.15) micrograms/l). Ten patients with CF showed clinical signs of liver dysfunction. All but one had a serum GST B1 > 4.55 micrograms/l. Twelve other patients had elevated LFTs without clinically evident liver dysfunction, six had abnormal ultrasound scans and two showed both of these anomalies. Thirty patients with CF had neither biochemical, ultrasonographic nor clinical signs of liver disease. On review three years later, clinically important liver disease was reaffirmed in eight of the 10 index cases and had become apparent in a further eight, all of whom had elevated GST B1 activities. Five (36%) of the patients with elevated LFTs and two (33%) with isolated ultrasound changes continued to show these abnormalities. CONCLUSIONS--The limitations of conventional LFTs and ultrasound scans were evident from this study. The results suggest that elevated GST B1 activities may be a better predictor of hepatic dysfunction in CF than conventional LFTs.