Radioimmunoassays for C3a and C4a have been used to measure the activation of complement in human serum by immune complexes containing DNP-BSA and each of 11 mouse anti-DNP monoclonal antibodies of varied isotype and affinity. When preformed complexes were added to serum, those containing IgG2 or IgM were potent activators of C4, whilst IgG1 complexes were less efficient. C3 activation in normal serum was similar for complexes containing IgG1, IgG2a, IgG2b or IgM. IgA complexes did not activate C3 or C4. Solubilisation of complexes was greatest for IgM and IgG2b and least for IgG2a and IgA. In serum containing Mg2+ EGTA C4 activation was abolished and the amount of C3 activation was lower for all IgG and IgM complexes. Antibodies of the same isotype did not necessarily activate complement to the same extent. Unexpectedly, three of the four IgMs activated C3 in EGTA. For IgMs, neither complement activation nor solubilisation correlated with affinity. For IgG1 antibodies, solubilisation was inversely proportional to affinity. C3 or C4 activation did not correlate with affinity.