Three major patterns of antineuronal antibody response have been identified in patients with paraneoplastic neurological syndromes: Type I ('Anti-Yo'), associated with cerebellar degeneration in the setting of breast or gynecological cancer, Type IIa ('anti-Hu') associated with encephalomyeloneuritis in patients with small cell carcinoma of the lung, and Type IIb ('anti-Ri') associated with breast cancer. We have employed immunofluorescence methods to determine the antibody classes and the IgG subclasses which react with neurons in each of these patterns of paraneoplastic antibody response. In this study, IgG was the only antibody class identified; IgM and IgA antibodies were not found. IgG1 was the major subclass represented and was found in 9/9 patients with Type I antibody response, 26/27 patients with Type IIa antibody response, and 3/3 patients with Type IIb antibody response. Many patients also exhibited positive staining for IgG2 and IgG3. Trace amounts of IgG4 antineuronal antibodies were detected in a single patient with Type I antibody response; IgG4 antibodies were not found in other patients. Patients with paraneoplastic neurological syndromes exhibit an antibody response which is overwhelmingly IgG and is comprised predominantly of IgG subclasses capable of fixing complement. The role of these antibodies in the pathogenesis of paraneoplastic neurological disease remains uncertain.