Drug induced vasculitides in humans are relatively rare diseases, resembling drug-induced vasculitis in rodents and primary idiopathic vasculitis. Because of their exquisite inflammatory nature, vascular lesions in these conditions release a large amount of bioactive molecules and activate multiple cell types, including endothelial cells, neutrophils, monocytes and T-lymphocytes, all of which might be in principle used as biomarkers of the underlying disease. Although each vasculitis may have specific features, the potential biomarkers released remain largely non-specific, raising the question of whether they represent a useful clinical tool. Low specificity, short half-lives and analytical weaknesses are all issues that must be resolved before such biomarkers can be routinely used as diagnostic tools in vasculitis. Further investigation of biomarkers in animal models may be key to a better understanding of their potential usefulness (graphical abstract figure).