INTRODUCTION: We investigated the ability of cell-free microRNAs (miRNAs) in plasma and serum to serve as a biomarker for malignant mesothelioma (MM). METHODS: Using miRNA microarrays, we profiled plasma samples from MM patients and healthy controls. miRNAs with significantly different abundance between cases and controls were validated in a larger series of MM patients and in an independent series of MM patients using quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction. Levels of candidate miRNAs were also quantified in MM tumor samples. RESULTS: We compared cell-free miRNA profiles in plasma from MM patients with healthy controls. Reviewing 90 miRNAs previously reported to be associated with MM, we found that the levels of two miRNAs, miR-29c* and miR-92a, were elevated in plasma samples from MM patients. In addition, we identified 15 novel miRNAs present at significantly higher levels in the plasma of MM patients. Further analysis of candidate miRNAs by real time-quantitative polymerase chain reaction confirmed that one of them, miR-625-3p, was present in significantly higher concentration in plasma/serum from MM patients and was able to discriminate between cases and controls, in both the original and the independent series of patients. MiR-625-3p was also found to be up-regulated in tumor specimens from a group of 18 MM patients, who underwent extrapleural pneumonectomy. CONCLUSION: Our data confirm the potential of miR-29c* and miR-92a as candidate tumor markers and reveal that miR-625-3p is a promising novel diagnostic marker for MM.