The Farr assay for the detecton of antibodies to double stranded (ds) DNA is influenced by the DNA preparations used as antigen. To elucidate this the molecular weight of the antigen preparation, contamination with proteins and presence or absence of single stranded (ss) regions were studied with the following conclusions: 1) The degree of DNA binding by antibodies is linearly dependent on the molecular weight of the DNA, provided that this does not exceed 10 X 10(6). 2) Deproteinization of E. coli DNA by chromatography on methylated albumin-kieselguhr(MAK) columns results in lower binding by most sera. 3) ds DNA preparations sometimes contain ss regions which bind antibodies to ss DNA. The difference in behaviour of different ds DNA preparations may be ascribed entirely to these factors and not to differences in antigenic determinants. We have standardized the Farr assay and enhanced its specificity by the use of circular DNA isolated from bacteriophage PM2.