A radioimmunometric technique for the detection of autoantibodies to liver membrane antigens has been developed using Alexander cells, a human hepatocellular carcinoma cell line. After incubation of Alexander cells with serum, antimembrane antibodies were detected by addition of 125I-labeled Protein A. Binding ratios in 15 children with uncontrolled autoimmune chronic active hepatitis and in seven children with primary sclerosing cholangitis were significantly higher than in 18 age-matched normal controls. Nine patients with inactive autoimmune chronic active hepatitis, 13 with α1-anti-trypsin deficiency and five with fulminant hepatic failure had ratios similar to controls. In nine patients with Wilson's disease, there was a modest but significant increase in binding ratio. In four children with autoimmune chronic active hepatitis, binding ratios fell during effective immunosuppressive therapy. Sera from patients with systemic lupus erythematosus or rheumatoid arthritis gave normal results, excluding that binding derives from Fc-mediated immune complex capture. A positive correlation was found between Alexander cell binding values and anti-liver-specific protein antibody titers, suggesting that the two assays detect antibodies against shared antigenic determinants. The Alexander cell assay is a simple, rapid and sensitive technique to detect antibody to liver cell membrane antigens.