We previously reported that 12.5% of primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) sera reacted with a 95 kDa cytosol protein (p95c) that was subsequently identified as a p97/valosin-containing protein (VCP). The clinical features and course of the six anti-p97/VCP-positive PBC patients with Scheuer's stage 1 and 2 liver biopsies were monitored for an average of 15 years. This group was compared with 50 PBC patients that did not have detectable anti-VCP. Autoantibodies to a full-length recombinant p97/VCP were assayed by immunoprecipitation. All six PBC patients with anti-VCP had antibodies to the mitochondrial pyruvate dehydrogenase complex-E2 antigen as measured by an addressable laser bead immunoassay. The first was a male with no evidence of liver failure that died of cerebral infarction at the age of 85. The second was a 73-year-old female with Hashimoto's thyroiditis who has remained clinically stable without ursodeoxycolic acid (UDCA) treatment. Although the third had no HCV antibodies, he developed hepatocellular carcinoma at the age of 76 and died of renal failure at 78. The fourth was a 50-year-old female who remained clinically stable during follow-up and the fifth with Hashimoto's thyroiditis and stable liver function following UCDA treatment. The sixth was a male patient presenting a mild clinical course. The clinical course of these patients was in contrast to the 50 comparison group PBC patients who did not have anti-p97/VCP. As the six PBC patients with anti-p97/VCP antibodies had slowly progressive liver disease and no mortality related to autoimmune liver disease, our observations suggest that this autoantibody might be an indicator of a favourable prognosis.