Antigenic components of Malassezia furfur, M. globosa, M. restricta, M. slooffiae, and M. sympodialis were studied for immunoglobulin E antibodies in sera of patients with atopic dermatitis (AD). Antigenic components were extracted from Malassezia cells by treatment with beta-mercaptoethanol, referred to as 2-ME extract. CBB staining and lectin blots using Con A, LCA, PHA-E4, PNA or RCA120 showed that the 2-ME extracts contained several species-dependent components that differed quantitatively and qualitatively among the Malassezia species at the protein level. In the Western blot with the 2-ME extracts, of 54 sera of the patients with AD (54 patients), the patients' IgE antibodies most frequently recognized components showing molecular weights of 43-46 kDa for M. slooffiae, 12-22 kDa for M. sympodialis, 35-40 kDa for M. restricta, 45-50 kDa for M. globosa, and of 67-72 kDa for M. furfur, respectively. In the correlative study, in which the total band intensities generated for each extract in Western blot were compared among the Malassezia species, the intensity for M. globosa was well correlated with that for M. sympodialis (r=0.756). In the Western blot inhibition test, the 2-ME extract of M. globosa partially inhibited the reaction of the antigenic components of other Malassezia species with the patient's IgE antibodies. These results indicated that Malassezia species contained both species-specific and common antigenic components at the IgE antibody level.