Lactic acidosis is a rare complication of haematological malignancies with a poor prognostic outcome and unclear aetiology. Possible mechanisms include high rate of glycolysis by cancer cells, in part due to over-expression of hexokinase II. The insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-system has an important role in normal as well as tumour cell growth. We present a case of a 79-year-old man with a diffuse large B-cell lymphoma and lactic acidosis. Initially, the patient was successfully treated according to the R-CHOP scheme. After recurrence of disease, the patient was treated according to a protocol of the Dutch-Belgian Haemato-Oncology Group (HOVON-85 study). Eleven months after completion of the last therapy, the patient still appeared to be in complete remission. Serum levels of IGFs, pro-IGF-IIE[68-88], IGF binding proteins (IGFBPs)-1 to -4, acid labile subunit (ALS), as well as ternary IGF-I-IGFBP-3-ALS complex formation, were determined in samples taken before, during and after treatment, respectively. Before treatment patient's serum concentration of the growth hormone-dependent parameters of the IGF-system and IGF-II were clearly reduced when compared with patient's values during remission of disease. On the other hand, during acidosis a relatively higher proportion of IGFs is present in binary complexes, instead of 150 kDa complexes, that may allow an increased access of IGFs to target cells including the malignant ones. Pretreatment serum levels of IGFBP-1 and -2 were elevated, decreased during therapy and normalized at remission. Especially IGFBP-2 seems a suitable marker for disease activity.