Heat-stable opsonins from sera of cystic fibrosis (CF) patients were investigated for their ability to activate complement. Complement activation by Pseudomonas aeruginosa after opsonization with patient serum was examined in a complement-consumption assay. Absorption of patients' sera with formalin-treated and boiled bacteria removed specific antibodies and the complement activation decreased. We found a positive correlation between serum complement-activation ability and IgG3 antibody levels to lipopolysaccharide (LPS), alginate, and a crude mixture of P. aeruginosa antigens (sonicate) in a group of patients with high levels of anti-Pseudomonas precipitins. In the same group of patients a significant negative correlation was found between complement activation and lung function. Eighteen patients have been followed longitudinally with serum samples covering the pre-infection, the early, and the late stages of chronic infection. Patients with poor lung function showed significantly higher levels of complement-activation capacity. We conclude that patients with high levels of specific IgG3 antibodies are able to induce a high level of complement activation and then develop more aggressive pulmonary tissue damage, probably secondary to local immune complex formation. Pediatr Pulmonol. 1995; 20:71–77. © 1995 Wiley-Liss, Inc.