An enzyme immunoassay was developed to detect antibodies to native DNA; DNA coating conditions that maximized sensitivity, specificity, and reproducibility were selected. Sera of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) were positive more frequently by this immunoassay than by the Crithidia luciliae assay or by counterimmunoelectrophoresis. By enzyme immunoassay, 94% of sera with active SLE and 70% of sera from patients with inactive SLE were positive, as were 16% from those suspected of having SLE, and 2.5% of normal persons. Specificity for native DNA was shown for both SLE and normal sera by inhibition studies and by S1 nuclease treatment of polystyrene-bound native DNA. The enzyme immunoassay correlated more with serum hemolytic complement levels that did the other 2 assays, suggesting that it detects biologically more relevant anti-DNA antibodies than do the other 2 tests.