Anthracyclines are effective antineoplastic drugs, but they frequently cause dose-related cardiotoxicity. The cardiotoxicity of conventional anthracycline therapy highlights a need to search for methods that are highly sensitive and capable of predicting cardiac dysfunction. We measured the plasma level of brain natriuretic peptide (BNP) to determine whether BNP might serve as a simple diagnostic indicator of anthracycline-induced cardiotoxicity in patients with acute leukemia treated with a daunorubicin (DNR)-containing regimen. Thirteen patients with acute leukemia were treated with a DNR-containing regimen. Cardiac functions were evaluated with radionuclide angiography before chemotherapies. The plasma levels of atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP) and BNP were measured at the time of radionuclide angiography. Three patients developed congestive heart failure after the completion of chemotherapy. Five patients were diagnosed as having subclinical heart failure after the completion of chemotherapy. The plasma levels of BNP in all the patients with clinical and subclinical heart failure increased above the normal limit (40 pg/ml) before the detection of clinical or subclinical heart failure by radionuclide angiography. On the other hand, BNP did not increase in the patients without heart failure given DNR, even at more than 700 mg/m2. The plasma level of ANP did not always increase in all the patients with clinical and subclinical heart failure. These preliminary results suggest that BNP may be useful as an early and sensitive indicator of anthracycline-induced cardiotoxicity.