The different fragments of the third complement component, C3, generated upon complement activation/inactivation have the ability to bind to several other complement components and receptors as well as to proteins of foreign origin. These multiple reactivities of C3 fragments are associated with a series of conformational changes occurring in the C3 molecule during its degradation. The conformations acquired by the different C3 fragments are also associated with the exposure of neoantigenic epitopes that are specific for (a) particular fragment(s). In order to study these epitopes and thus the conformational changes occurring in C3, monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) recognizing such epitopes were produced in Balb/c mice after immunization with denatured human C3. Two of the three antibodies (7D84.1 and 7D264.6) presented in this study recognized predominantly surface-bound iC3b, and one mAb (7D323.1) recognized both surface-bound and fluid-phase iC3b. Although none of the mAbs recognized any other fluid-phase C3 fragment, all three antibodies detected micro-titre-plate-fixed C3b and iC3b, but not C3c or C3d. In addition to the reaction with human C3, mAb 7D323.1 also bound to micro-titre-plate-fixed rabbit C3. The epitopes recognized by the three mAbs were further localized by using synthetic peptides that were designed on the basis of the differential binding of the mAbs to the C3 fragments. All three antibodies reacted with C3-(924-965)-peptide, which represents the region of C3 between the kallikrein-cleavage site (923-924) and the elastase-cleavage site (965-966). On the basis of the binding of the mAbs to five different overlapping peptides spanning the region between residues 924 and 965 of the human C3 sequence, and the sequence similarity between human C3 and rabbit C3 within this area, the epitopes recognized by these antibodies are mapped. The contribution of the individual amino acid residues in the formation of the epitopes is discussed.