The Epstein-Barr virus nuclear antigen I (EBNA I) is the only latent EBV antigen consistently expressed in malignant tissues of the nasopharynx. A 20-amino-acid synthetic peptide, p107 contains a major epitope of EBNA I. We tested sera from 210 patients with nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) and from 128 normal individuals (NHS) for IgA antibodies to p107 using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Whereas 191/210 (91%) of NPC patients had IgA antibodies to p107, only 17/128 (13.3%) of NHS had such antibodies and only 6/57 (10.5%) of sera from patients with malignancies other than NPC had IgA-p107 reactivity. Thirty-nine salivary samples from 46 NPC patients (84.8%) also contained IgA-p107 antibodies whereas only 3/42 (7.1%) of normal saliva samples were IgA-p107 positive. The results suggest that IgA antibodies to EBNA I may become a useful, easily measurable, marker for NPC.