The functional affinity and heterogeneity of autoantibodies to thyroglobulin (Tg) were measured by an IgG subclass-specific solid-phase competition ELISA in patients with autoimmune thyroid disease. High-affinity IgG1 and IgG4 antibodies formed the major anti-Tg response. Both titre and affinity of IgG3 and IgG2 anti-Tg were generally low but in some Hashimoto's disease patients high-affinity IgG2 anti-Tg were found and IgG2 anti-Tg, unlike those of other subclasses, showed very restricted heterogeneity. The affinity of IgG4 anti-Tg was similar in patients with thyroid disease and their clinically euthyroid (normal) relatives. In contrast, a progressive increase in IgG1 anti-Tg affinity was seen in clinically euthyroid individuals compared with their relatives with thyroid disease and high titred Hashimoto's disease patients, suggesting that either rising titres of high affinity IgG1 anti-Tg or affinity maturation of IgG1 anti-Tg may be indicative of impending hypothyroidism.