The aim of this study was to clarify whether autoimmunity against P/Q-type voltage-gated calcium channels (VGCCs) in the cerebellum was associated with the pathogenesis of paraneoplastic cerebellar degeneration (PCD) with Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome (LEMS). We used human autopsy cerebellar tissues from three PCD-LEMS patients and six other disease patients including one with LEMS as the controls. We compared cerebellar P/Q-type VGCC in these patients and controls for the amount and ratio of autoantibody-channel complex using an 125I-omega-conotoxin MVIIC-binding assay with Scatchard analysis, and their distribution using autoradiography. The quantity of cerebellar P/Q-type VGCC measured by Scatchard analysis were reduced in PCD-LEMS patients (63.0 +/- 7.0 fmol/mg, n = 3), compared with the controls (297.8 +/- 38.9 fmol/mg, n = 6). The ratio of autoantibody-VGCC complexes to total P/Q-type VGCCs measured by immunoprecipitation assay were increased in PCD-LEMS patients. We analysed cerebellar specimens by autoradiography using (125)I-omega-conotoxin MVIIC, which specifically binds to P/Q-type VGCCs. In PCD-LEMS cerebellum, the toxin binding sites of P/Q-type VGCCs were markedly reduced compared with controls, especially in the molecular layer, which is the richest area of P/Q-type VGCCs in the normal cerebellum. This suggests that P/Q-type VGCCs of the cerebellar molecular layer is the immunological target in developing PCD-LEMS.