Much effort has been devoted to the identification of immunologically important antigens of Mycobacterium tuberculosis and to the combination of target antigens to which antibodies from serum of tuberculous patients could react specifically. We searched for IgG antibodies specific for antigens of 45 to 6 kDa obtained after sonication of the well-characterized wild M. tuberculosis strain in order to detect differences in the antibody response to low molecular weight antigens from M. tuberculosis between patients with pulmonary tuberculosis and contacts. Specific IgG antibodies for these antigens were detected by Western blot analysis of 153 serum samples collected from 51 patients with confirmed pulmonary tuberculosis. Three samples were collected from each patient: before therapy, and after 2 and 6 months of treatment. We also analyzed 25 samples obtained from contacts, as well as 30 samples from healthy individuals with known tuberculin status, 50 samples from patients with other lung diseases and 200 samples from healthy blood donors. The positive predictive value for associated IgG reactivity against the 6-kDa and 16-kDa antigens, 6 and 38 kDa, and 16 and 38 kDa was 100% since simultaneous reactivity for these antigens was absent in healthy individuals and individuals with other lung diseases. This association was observed in 67% of the patients, but in only 8% of the contacts. The humoral response against antigens of 16 and 6 kDa seems to be important for the detection of latent tuberculosis since the associated reactivity to these antigens is mainly present in individuals with active disease.