Antimitochondrial autoantibodies are present in sera from close to 95% of patients with primary biliary cirrhosis. The so-called primary biliary cirrhosis-specific antigen, named M2, was found to be associated with an enzyme complex of the inner mitochondrial membrane and, more precisely, with the E2 component, dihydrolipoamide acetyltransferase, of the pyruvate dehydrogenase complex. We recently established that an immunodominant epitope recognized in direct enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay by primary biliary cirrhosis M2+ sera, but not by non—primary biliary cirrhosis M2+ sera, could be mimicked by a synthetic peptide encompassing residues 167–184 of the E2 component and associated with lipoic acid. This fragment is present in the natural inner lipoyl-binding site of the human enzyme, and the presence of lipoic acid located on Iysine 173 was found to be essential to allow IgG antibody binding. In this study we have improved the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay test based on the synthetic peptide—lipoic acid conjugate by using a multiple antigen peptide system containing eight copies of the peptide as antigen. This approach avoids the use of a peptide conjugated to a carrier protein and was found to be particularly efficient because 23 of 27 primary biliary cirrhosis M2+ sera (85%) could be identified. A multiple antigen peptide without lipoic acid was not recognized by primary biliary cirrhosis antibodies. The peptide used in the multiple antigen peptide construction was a short 13-mer peptide encompassing a highly conserved sequence present in both the outer (residues 40–52) and the inner (residues 167–179) lipoyl-binding sites of the enzyme. Our results thus confirm that the highly conserved lipoate site, when associated with lipoic acid, constitutes a major conformational epitope of E2. The multiple antigen peptide construction with peptide—lipoic acid conjugate could be used as a valuable probe for primary biliary cirrhosis diagnosis.