In rheumatic diseases, autoantibody-producing cells of interest are often hidden in a polyclonal B-lymphocyte population. Immunoglobulin gene fingerprinting is a useful approach to screen for expanding clones and to detect recirculation between different locations. The gene fingerprinting approach and the Southern blot technique have been amalgamated, using electrophoretic transfer of a PCR product from an acrylamide gel onto a nylon membrane followed by hybridization with specific oligonucleotide probes. In contrast to conventional fingerprinting, the authenticity of immunoglobulin genes can be confirmed, individual genes can be detected and handling radionucleotides can be avoided. Also, the membrane may be reused for further investigations.