The anti-IgE autoantibody was detected, using a radioimmunoassay, in 17 out of 35 (48.6%) of patients with atopic dermatitis. Significant increased levels of IgG-anti-IgE were seen in the patients studied compared with the control group. The specificity of the anti-IgE autoantibody was confirmed by competitive inhibition assay using IgG, IgM, IgE myeloma. A correlation was observed between the levels of IgG -anti-IgE and serum IgE but not between the IgG subclasses with anti-IgE activity and the clinical status. These data demonstrate that the IgG subclass distribution with anti-IgE activity belongs mostly to the IgG1 and IgG4 subclasses compared with the controls. Moreover, ultracentrifugation analysis indicated that the IgG-anti-IgE in the serum samples from the patients with atopic dermatitis was present in the form of an immune complex with self-IgE. These observations may suggest that the anti-IgE complexes may play a broader role in the modulation of the immune response and that this autoantibody may mask recognition of IgE in conventional assays.