Antibody-mediated inflammation is believed to contribute to tissue injury in multiple sclerosis (MS). The majority of patients with MS have oligoclonal bands (OCB), corresponding to antibodies against a variety of antigens, in their cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). The relation of CSF OCB and disease progression in MS is uncertain. To investigate whether there is a relation between CSF OCB and a more aggressive disease course of MS, 143 patients with definite MS according to the Poser diagnostic criteria and CSF analysis at time of diagnosis were followed over a period of 5 years. There were no differences in presence or number of CSF OCB between patients with significant worsening of disability and stable patients. There were no differences in presence or number of CSF OCB between patients with stable relapsing-remitting MS and patients developing secondary progression during follow-up. The presence or number of CSF OCB does not seem to influence early disease progression in MS.