Background: We investigated the expression of high mobility group box 1 (HMGB1) protein in a combat-relevant polytrauma/ acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) model. We hypothesized that systemic HMGB1 expression is increased after injury and during aeromedical evacuation (AE) at altitude. Methods: Female Yorkshire swine (n =15) were anesthetized and cannulated with a 23Fr dual-lumen catheter. Venovenous extracorporeal life support (VV ECLS) was initiated via the right jugular vein and carried out with animals uninjured on day 1 and injured by bilateral pulmonary contusion on day 2. On both days, animals underwent transport and simulated AE. Systemic HMGB1 expression was measured in plasma by ELISA. Plasma-free Hb (pfHb) was measured with the use of spectrophotometric methods. Results: Plasma HMGB1 on day 1 was transiently higher at arrival to the AE chambers, increased significantly after injury, reaching highest values at 8,000 ft on day 2, after which levels decreased but remained elevated versus baseline at each time point. pfHb decreased on day 1 at 30,000 ft and significantly increased on day 2 at 8,000 ft and postflight. Conclusions: Systemic HMGB1 demonstrated sustained elevation after trauma and altitude transport and may provide a useful monitoring capability during en route care.