Acute exacerbation (AE) significantly affects the prognosis of patients with interstitial lung disease (ILD). This study aimed to investigate the best prognostic biomarker for patients with AE-ILD. Clinical data obtained during hospitalization were retrospectively analyzed for 96 patients with AE-ILD at three tertiary hospitals. The mean age of all subjects was 70.1 years; the percentage of males was 66.7%. Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis accounted for 60.4% of the cases. During follow-up (median: 88 days), in-hospital mortality was 24%. Non-survivors had higher lactate dehydrogenase and C-reactive protein (CRP) levels, lower ratio of partial pressure of oxygen to the fraction of inspiratory oxygen (P/F ratio), and higher relative change in Krebs von den Lungen-6 (KL-6) levels over 1 week after hospitalization than survivors. In multivariable analysis adjusted by age, the 1-week change in KL-6—along with baseline P/F ratio and CRP levels—was an independent prognostic factor for in-hospital mortality (odds ratio 1.094, P = 0.025). Patients with remarkable increase in KL-6 (≥ 10%) showed significantly worse survival (in-hospital mortality: 63.2 vs. 6.1%) than those without. In addition to baseline CRP and P/F ratio, the relative changes in KL-6 over 1 week after hospitalization might be useful for predicting in-hospital mortality in patients with AE-ILD.