Acute motor axonal neuropathy (AMAN) in humans is associated with the presence of GM1-specific antibodies. Immunization of rabbits with GM1-containing ganglioside mixtures, purified GM1, or Campylobacter jejuni lipo-oligosaccharide exhibiting a GM1-like structure elicits GM1-specific antibodies, but axonal polyneuropathy only occurs in a subset of animals. This study aimed to dissect the molecular basis for the variable induction of AMAN in rabbits. Therefore, we analyzed the pro-inflammatory characteristics of GM1-specific antibodies in plasma samples from ganglioside-immunized rabbits with and without neurological deficits. GM1-specific plasma samples from all rabbits with AMAN were capable of activating both complement and leukocytes, in contrast to none of the plasma samples from rabbits without paralysis. Furthermore, GM1-specific IgG-mediated activation of leukocytes was detected before the onset of clinical signs. These data suggest that AMAN only occurs in rabbits that develop GM1-specific antibodies with pro-inflammatory properties.