The different ways of raising antibodies to histamine are reviewed. High affinity monoclonal antibodies could be raised only against derivatized histamine. Succinyl glycinamide derivatization provided the basis of an efficient radioimmunoassay. In this paper the molecular pattern and the thermodynamical properties of histamine recognition were thoroughly investigated. Only the neutral form and not the cationic form of imidazole was recognized. As expected, the ligand recognition increased, with improved structural homology to the immunogen. However, a detailed analysis revealed a zwitterionic effect whenever a carboxylic group was present on the side chain of the ligand.