Fifty-five patients with plasma cell dyscrasias were investigated by genomic typing for HLA-DR and -DQ genes by restriction fragment length polymorphism, neurophysiology and for presence of anti-myelin-associated glycoprotein (MAG) antibodies. In 26 patients, a polyneuropathy (PN) of demyelinating type was established. Among these individuals, an association was found with the presence of a tryptophan amino acid residue at position 9 of the DR beta chain (P < 0.01). This position is part of the first hypervariable region of the DR beta chain, and may be of importance in determining preferential peptide-binding capacity of the HLA-DR molecule. The presence of anti-MAG antibodies in 15 out of 17 patients with an IgM M-component and demyelinating PN (14 of these 15 individuals carrying a tryptophan at position 9) supports the pathogenic role of an autoimmune response against MAG. The finding of an HLA class II association may indicate a pathogenic role of T cell immunity in this condition.