Bullous pemphigoid is a subepidermal bullous disorder characterized by an autoantibody response against the bullous pemphigoid antigen 230 (BP230) and the bullous pemphigoid antigen 180 (BP180), a cytoplasmic component and a transmembrane component, respectively, of hemidesmosomes. Although immunodominant sequences within the extracellular domain of BP180 have been identified, characterization of the antigenic sites on BP230 is still incomplete. To identify autoantibody-reactive sites on BP230 and to examine whether the targeted regions are contained within functionally important domains, recombinant fragments encompassing almost the entire BP230 were used to assess the reactivity of 25 bullous pemphigoid sera by immunoblotting. Our results demonstrate that (i) the region bearing the B and C subdomains of the COOH-terminus of BP230 contains immunodominant sequences recognized by the majority of bullous pemphigoid sera; (ii) additional autoantibody- reactive sites are present over extended regions of the NH2-terminal half of BP230 without evidence for antigenic cross-reactivity between the NH2- and COOH-termini of BP230; and, finally, (iii) autoantibodies reacting with the BP230 tail predominantly belong to the IgG4 and IgG1 subclasses, suggesting that both autoreactive TH2 and autoreactive TH1 cells regulate the autoantibody response to immunodominant sequences of BP230. As the COOH- terminus of BP230 mediates the attachment of keratin intermediate filaments to the hemidesmosomal plaque, whereas its NH2-terminus contains sequences important for its interaction with other constituents of hemidesmosomes, autoantibodies to BP230 might precipitate subepidermal blister formation and perpetuate the disease not only by eliciting an inflammatory reaction but also by interfering with the function of BP230 and thus the stability of hemidesmosomes.