To explore circulation levels of osteopontin (OPN), tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-α and transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1 from patients with oral lichen planus (OLP) for clinical application. A group of 26 subjects with OLP were compared with 26 sex- and age-matched control (NC) subjects. Local lesion tissue was examined for OPN by immunohistochemical analysis. And, serum OPN, proinflammatory TNF-α and TGF-β1 levels were measured by enzyme-linked immunoabsorbent assay. The serum concentrations of OPN and TNF-α were significantly higher in OLP patients than the NC group (P < 0.05). Although serum concentrations of TGF-β1 increased slightly, they were not statistically significant. Erosive-form OLP exhibited significantly elevated TGF-β1 serum levels, compared with reticular-form OLP. The above results suggest that the production of OPN is associated with the inflammatory process of OLP development, and may serve as a potential disease marker of OLP.