We have studied the possible role of human IgG4 as an anaphylactic antibody. For that purpose, we have determined the induction of histamine release (HR) from human basophils by anti-IgE and anti-IgG4 monoclonal antibodies (MoAbs) recognizing different epitopes located at the Fe and Fab regions of the IgG4 molecule. The results show that anti-IgG4 (Fab) MoAb was able to induce HR in 93% of donors tested, with no differences between atopics and non-atopics. That HR is calcium dependent and is accompanied by the synthesis and release of leukotriene C4. In contrast, no HR could be induced by anti-IgG4(Fc) MoAbs in any individual, even in the presence of D2O or after a second challenge with a polyclonal goat anti-mouse IgG antibody. The results obtained suggest the presence of IgG4 on the basophil membrane and that the epitope recognized by the anti-IgG4 (Fc) MoAbs is probably hidden in cell-bound IgG4. This was demonstrated by immunofluorescence techniques: IgG4 bound to the basophil membrane could be detected with anti-IgG4(Fab) but not with anti-IgG4(Fc) MoAbs. In addition, we found that nine donors were unresponsive to an anti-IgE stimulus, while they released histamine efficiently after challenge with anti-IgG4(Fab), suggesting the existence of different receptors for both immunoglobulins.