Sera of 78 patients with different chronic liver diseases were examined for the presence of anti-histone activity using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Eighteen patients had primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC), 20 had chronic active hepatitis, and 40 had cirrhosis. Anti-histone antibodies were detected in 34 patients (43.6%), distributed among all liver disease entities studied. When antibodies of specific isotypes (IgG, IgM, and IgA) were measured, even higher frequencies were noted--50% for IgG and 53.8% for IgA. Antibodies to histone subfractions H1, H2a, H2b, H3, and H4 were also observed in all liver disorders investigated (in 22-32% of patients)--H1 and H3 being the prominent fractions involved. Of the various disease entities examined PBC was the one disclosing the highest frequency of anti-histone antibodies.