The clinical significance of circulating fol- listatin (FLST), an inhibitor of the multifunctional cytokine activin A (Act A), was investigated in patients with prostate cancer (PCa). The serum concentrations of this molecule were determined by an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) in PCa patients with (M?) or without (M0) bone metastases, in patients with benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH) and in healthy sub- jects (HS). The effectiveness of FLST in detecting PCa patients with skeletal metastases was determined by the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis. Serum FLST was significantly higher in PCa patients than in BPH patients (P = 0.001) or HS (P = 0.011). Conversely, in BPH patients, FLST levels resulted lower than in HS (P = 0.025). In cancer patients the serum concentrations of FLST significantly correlated with the presence of bone metastases (P = 0.0005) or increased PSA levels (P = 0.04). Interestingly, significant differ- ences in the ratio between FLST and Act A serum concentrations (FLST/Act A) were observed between HS and BPH patients (P = 0.001) or PCa patients (P = 0.0005). Finally, ROC curve analysis, highlighted a sound diagnostic performance of FLST in detecting patients (P = 0.0001). However, the diagnostic effectiveness of FLST did not result significantly supe- rior to that of Act A or PSA. These findings suggest that FLST may be regarded as a potential, molecular target in the treatment of metastatic bone disease while its clinical role as soluble marker in the clinical management of PCa patients with bone metastases needs to be better defined.