Autoantibodies are often found among healthy individuals. The significance of these findings, regarding the potential development of overt autoimmune disease and the severity of such an eventuality, is as yet unclear. In order to elucidate these issues 506 healthy women were screened and 60 women of child-bearing age were found to posses high titres of various anti-nuclear antibodies. After a 5-year follow-up, 57 of these 60 women were found to have autoantibodies to a variety of autoantigens. Seven of the women had some symptoms that could be associated with the presence of the antibodies (i.e. arthritis, multiple abortions, Raynaud's phenomenon), however, none exhibited overt clinical signs of an autoimmune disease. Our study may point to the fact that in normal subjects (women aged 22-44 years) high titres of natural autoantibodies are not necessarily indicative of a high risk of developing an overt autoimmune condition, at least for a follow-up period of 5 years.