To further characterize the IgA deposits found in glomeruli of patients with IgA nephropathy, anaphylactoid purpura nephritis, and systemic lupus erythematosus, renal biopsies from patients with these disorders were stained by immunofluorescence with monoclonal anti-IgA subclass reagents, anti-light chain reagents and anti-J chain. The mesangium and peripheral capillary were brightly stained for IgA1 and were negative for IgA2. IgA1 and, to a lesser extent, IgA2 were contained in tubular casts. Both kappa and lambda light chains were found in all deposits. The intensity of J chain staining correlated with the intensity of IgM and not IgA staining. Biopsies brightly stained for IgA but negative for IgM were negative for J chain. These results indicate that glomerular IgA deposits in these disorders consist predominantly of monomers of IgA1.