Little is known about the etiologies of diseases associated with circulating antineutrophil cytoplasm autoantibodies (ANCA), such as primary vasculitides and inflammatory bowel diseases. However, the understanding of immune mechanisms supposedly involved in the pathogenesis of these diseases is still growing. In the present review, we first focus on the mechanisms triggering the development of ANCA, including the potential role of microbial superantigens and the possible defect(s) in the progression of apoptosis or in the removal of apoptotic cells. We next concentrate on the contribution of ANCA to the clinical symptoms and on the pathogenic role of ANCA, including the accessibility of ANCA antigens as targets for circulating antibodies and the mode of action of ANCA. Mechanisms of neutrophil activation by ANCA include the engagement of Fcgamma receptors, the possible mechanisms of neutrophil-mediated tissue damage, and the neutrophil-endothelial interaction.