Ninety-five untreated patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the upper aerodigestive tract expressed significantly higher levels of C1q-binding macromolecules as compared to 45 noncancer-bearing controls. No relationship between C1q-binding macromolecules and levels of circulating IgG-immune complexes as determined by the solid-phase C1q-binding assay or the C3d-solid-phase assay could be defined suggesting that C1q-binding macromolecules were distinct from IgG-circulating immune complexes. An elevated level of C1q-binding macromolecules within these patients was predictive of subsequent response to induction chemotherapy; those with elevated levels characteristically showed no response. Using multivariate logistic regression analysis including the covariates of American Joint Committee staging parameters as well as C1q assay results, levels of the isolated macromolecules added significant prognostic information as to the probability of chemotherapeutic response. The quantitation of C1q macromolecules has clinical implication as to choice of therapeutic regimens against head and neck cancer. The nature of these substances remains to be defined.