Autoimmune serum from a patient with scleroderma was shown by indirect immunofluorescence to label nucleoli in a variety of cells tested including: rat kangaroo PtK2, Xenopus A6, 3T3, HeLa, and human peripheral blood lymphocytes. Immunoblot analysis of nucleolar proteins with the scleroderma antibody resulted in the labeling of a single protein band of 34 kD molecular weight with a pI of 8.5. Electron microscopic immunocytochemistry demonstrated that the protein recognized by the scleroderma antiserum was localized exclusively in the fibrillar region of the nucleolus which included both dense fibrillar and fibrillar center regions. Therefore, we have named this protein "fibrillarin". Fibrillarin was found on putative chromosomal nucleolar organizer regions (NORs) in metaphase and anaphase, and during telophase fibrillarin was found to be an early marker for the site of formation of the newly forming nucleolus. Double label indirect immunofluorescence and immunoelectron microscopy on normal, actinomycin D-segregated, and DRB-treated nucleoli showed that fibrillarin and nucleolar protein B23 were predominantly localized to the fibrillar and granular regions of the nucleolus, respectively. RNase A and DNase I digestion of cells in situ demonstrated that fibrillarin was partially removed by RNase and completely removed by DNase. These results suggest that fibrillarin is a widely occurring basic nonhistone nucleolar protein whose location and nuclease sensitivity may indicate some structural and/or functional role in the rDNA-containing dense fibrillar and fibrillar center regions of the nucleolus.