Antibodies against IL-1 alpha were detected in sera of apparently healthy individuals. The immunoglobulins belonged to the IgG class, particularly IgG1, IgG2, and IgG4. [125I]rIL-1 alpha bound to Fab fragments of IgG, and IgG immune complexes of molecular weights from 160 to 700 kDa were formed in the sera by [125I]rIL-1 alpha. The occurrence of detectable anti-IL-1 alpha IgG in sera of 32 male and 32 female donors was 25 and 22% respectively. As judged by Scatchard analysis of the binding data, the capacity and avidity of binding were greater in the male than in the female sera (mean capacity to bind [125I]rIL-1 alpha: 10 [0.7-27] versus 3.3 [0.5-7.3] ng/ml; and mean Kd: 5.5 [5-7] versus 11 [4-16] pM). The antibodies did not cross-bind human recombinant IL-1 beta, IL-2, IL-6, or tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha). It is concluded that native IL-1 alpha seems to trigger production of specific, high-avidity IgG antibodies in a relatively large number of normal individuals. These autoantibodies may regulate immunoinflammatory processes involving IL-1 alpha.