In a cross-sectional study of 124 patients with definite or classical rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and negative agglutination assays, rheumatoid factor (RF) isotypes were measured using an ELISA technique. Elevated levels of IgA-RF were found in 55 patients (44%), IgG-RF in 99 (80%), and IgM-RF in 20 (16%). The levels of IgA- and IgM-RF correlated with each other (P less than 0.001). Elevated levels of IgM-RF were associated with a more severe disease course. Elevated levels of IgA-RF correlated with the occurrence of bone erosions. The results of this study suggest that in patients with RA and negative agglutination assays, both IgM- and IgA-RF are markers of disease severity.