P3HR-1 and Ramos cells induced with sodium butyrate and 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol 13-acetate were used in the protein immunoblot technique to identify Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-specific antibodies present in sera from clinically normal individuals and patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and infectious mononucleosis (IM). Sixteen EBV-specific polypeptides were detected ranging in mol. wt. from 22,000 (22K) to 140K. Many of the sera contained antibodies to different subsets of these antigens, and a high proportion expressed autoantibodies which reacted with cellular components from an EBV genome-negative cell line. About 50% of the sera from each category reacted with the 44K to 48K and 36K and 38K early antigen (EA) components. A high proportion of the SLE sera (64%) were found to contain anti-EA antibodies, suggesting an association between EBV and SLE. Almost all of the EBV-seropositive sera examined contained antibodies against a 22K late antigen, but none of the sera from IM patients reacted with this polypeptide.