Fifteen sera of patients with visceral leishmaniasis were investigated for the occurrence of autoantibodies. They were found in high incidence and titre, and with specificity to the intermediate filament (INFIL) proteins vimentin (12 out of 15 with a titre higher than 1:10) and keratin (9 out of 15 with a titre higher than 1:10) as well as to speckled anti-nuclear antigens (ANA). Additionally, supernatants of Leishmania major and Leishmania donovani cultures containing soluble parasite-derived antigens were mitogenic to cultures of mononuclear cells (MNC) obtained from healthy donors without specific antibodies to leishmanial antigens. The activation of MNC resulted in significant immunoglobulin production, some of which demonstrated autoantibody specificity to INFIL. The co-operation of monocytes, T cells and B cells was required in order to obtain maximal stimulation. The importance of polyclonal B-cell activation for the genesis and occurrence of autoantibodies in visceral leishmaniasis is discussed.