Autoantibodies against a soluble liver antigen (SLA) were detected in 23 patients with HBsAg-negative chronic active hepatitis (CAH) but not in 502 patients with various other hepatic and non-hepatic disorders or 165 healthy blood donors. Anti-SLA-positive serum samples were negative for antinuclear and liver-kidney-microsomal antibodies, markers of two subgroups of autoimmune-type CAH, 6 anti-SLA-positive patients were negative for all autoantibodies sought. Most of the anti-SLA-positive patients were young women (2 men, 21 women; mean age 37 years) with hypergammaglobulinaemia (mean 3.2 g/l, range 1.8-5.3 g/l); 18 of the 23 patients had received immunosuppressive treatment and all responded well. Anti-SLA titres declined during therapy, corresponding to disease activity. Anti-SLA cannot be detected by immunofluorescence. SLA is not organ-specific or species-specific, but the highest concentrations were found in liver and kidney. Anti-SLA autoantibodies characterise a third subgroup of autoimmune-type CAH and will allow a better differentiation of HBsAg-negative CAH which has therapeutic consequences.