The clinical spectrum of ocular disease in 37 patients with atopic keratoconjunctivitis (AKC) is described. Patients typically had a severe blepharoconjunctivitis. Associated corneal scarring, suppurative keratitis, or keratoconus were the major causes of visual loss. Serum and tear samples from these patients were analyzed to quantify total and specific IgE antibodies. The results were compared as a case control study with results from samples from 55 patients with other forms of atopic disease and 16 nonatopic volunteers. Although the mean values for total and specific IgEs in the serum of patients with atopic disease were markedly higher than the values from nonatopic controls (P less than 0.00002), a difference between the disease groups could not be demonstrated (P greater than 0.05). There were also differences between both the total IgE (P = 0.0002) and pollen-specific IgE (P = 0.015) in tears from patients with atopic disease and nonatopic controls, but not for house dust mite or cat dander-specific IgEs. These results suggest that clinical differences between groups of patients with chronic allergic external eye disease are not associated with specific patterns of IgE production.