In previous studies we evaluated the incidence and specificity of autologous antibody reactivity against squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN). We were able to demonstrate that autologous antibody reactivity is present in native sera but was usually of too low a titer to allow further analysis. Dissociation of immune complexes by acidification and ultrafiltration of serum augmented autologous antibody reactivity in nine out of nine autologous systems tested. Native antibody and antibody derived from immune complexes produced by the host and reactive with autologous tumor cells may be directed against physiologically relevant antigens. Therefore, correlations of antibody titers with clinical course may provide insight into the nature of the host response to cancer. In the present analysis, serological studies of six patients with SCCHN were performed with serum samples obtained over many months. Results of serial serological assays were correlated to tumor progression and clinical course. Fluctuations in autologous antibody reactivity were noted over time. In four cases, rises in autologous antibody titers preceded the clinical diagnosis of recurrence by several months. Drops in autologous antibody reactivity were noted in two cases following surgery or radiation therapy. In two cases of long-term survivors, no correlation between antibody reactivity and clinical course was noted. Specificity analysis of the six autologous systems demonstrated reactivity against autologous and allogeneic SCCHN as well as melanoma cell lines. These sera did not react with glioma, neuroblastoma, renal cell, breast, bladder and colon carcinoma cell lines nor with fetal calf serum, pooled lymphocytes, red blood cells and platelets. Autologous serial serological studies may provide a means by which to evaluate the host/tumor relationship in patients with SCCHN.