Serum samples from 18 patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) were tested for neutrophil C3-fixing ability and neutrophil-binding lgG by the binding of radioiodinated monoclonal anti-C3 antibody and staphylococcal protein A to paraformaldehyde-fixed allogeneic neutrophils sensitized with serum. Serum from patients with SLE resulted in the binding of significantly greater amounts of lgG to neutrophils than normal serum, but this lgG binding did not correlate with the degree of neutropenia. In contrast, serum samples from 10 neutropenic patients with SLE resulted in the binding of significantly greater amounts of C3 to neutrophils when compared with serum samples from eight non-neutropenic patients with SLE. Fixation of C3 to neutrophils by serum from patients with SLE appeared to be due to the binding of complement-activating monomeric antineutrophil lgG autoantibody. A significant negative correlation (r = -0.78) between the neutrophil count and the C3-fixing ability of serum from patients with SLE suggested that antineutrophil antibody-mediated activation of complement may be important in the pathophysiology of neutropenia in SLE.