Autoimmune chronic active liver disease (ACALD), a major indication for liver transplantation, is associated strongly with antigenic determinants HLA-B8 and DR3. A retrospective analysis of 43 patients who underwent OLTx for putative ACALD and who, as well as their tissue organ donors, were typed, was performed. Disease recurrence and graft rejection episodes were determined by chart review and histopathological review of all material available. Disease recurrence was histologically documented in 11 (25.6%) of these 43 cases. Graft rejection episodes occurred in 24 (55.8%). All recurrences were in recipients of HLA-DR3-negative grafts. Nine of the recurrences were in HLA-DR3-positive recipients (odds ratio: 6.14, P less than 0.03). Two of 11 cases of disease recurrence were in recipients who were HLA-DR3-negative. Nine of these 11 had received HLA-DR3-negative grafts. Rejection occurred in 13 HLA-B8-positive recipients, 12 of whom received HLA-B8-negative grafts. Eleven HLA-B8-negative recipients experienced at least one rejection episode and 9 of these had received HLA-B8-negative grafts. Based upon these data we conclude: 1) that recurrence of putative ACALD is more likely to occur in HLA-DR3-positive recipients of HLA-DR3-negative grafts; (2) that recurrences were not seen in recipients of HLA-DR3-positive grafts; (3) that HLA-B8 status does not affect disease recurrence; and (4) that neither the HLA-B8 nor the DR3 status of the graft or recipient has an effect on the observed frequency of rejection.