In K/BxN T cell receptor-transgenic mice, spontaneous inflammatory arthritis exhibiting many of the features of human rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is initiated by T cells, but is almost entirely sustained by antibodies to the self-antigen glucose-6-phosphate isomerase (GPI). The relevance of these observations to human disease has been questioned. Here we show that 64% of humans with RA, but not controls, had increased concentrations of anti-GPI immunoglobulin G (IgG) in serum and synovial fluid. In addition, the concentrations of soluble GPI in the sera and synovial fluids of RA patients were also elevated, which led to immune complex formation. Using phage-display methods, we cloned a panel of specific high-affinity human monoclonal anti-GPI IgGs from a patient with RA. These antibodies were highly somatically mutated, which was indicative of an affinity-matured response that was antigen driven. Immunohistochemistry of RA synovium showed high concentrations of GPI on the surface of the synovial lining and on the endothelial cell surface of arterioles; this indicated a mechanism by which antibodies to GPI may precipitate joint disease. The results indicate that the immunological events that lead to the development of autoimmune disease in the K/BxN mouse model may also occur in human RA. This data may be used to develop new strategies for therapeutic intervention.