The regenerating gene (Reg) was isolated originally as a gene specifically over-expressed in regenerating pancreatic islets and constitute a growth factor family. Reg gene product (Reg) is important in the pathophysiology of various human inflammatory diseases. Recently, the possible involvement of human REG in the regeneration of salivary ductal epithelial cells of patients with primary Sjögren's syndrome (SS) was reported. However, the expression of the REG family genes in minor salivary glands (MSG) and the occurrence of anti-REG Iα autoantibodies in SS patients were obscured. In this study, we examined the expression of REG family genes in the MSG of SS and screened anti-REG Iα autoantibodies in SS. The mRNA levels of REG family genes in MSG were quantified using real-time reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction (RT–PCR) and REG Iα expression in the MSG was analysed by immunohistochemistry. The mRNA level of REG Iα in the MSG of SS patients was significantly higher than that of control. REG Iα protein was expressed highly in SS ductal epithelial cells. Anti-REG Iα autoantibodies in the sera were found in 11% of SS. All the MSG in the anti-REG Iα autoantibody-positive group showed REG Iα expression, whereas only 40% showed REG Iα expression in the anti-REG Iα autoantibody-negative group. The anti-REG Iα autoantibody-positive group showed significantly lower saliva secretion and a higher ratio of grade 4 (by Rubin–Holt) in sialography. These data suggest strongly that autoimmunity to REG Iα might play a role in the degeneration of MSG ductal epithelial cells in primary SS.