We investigated the role of humoral factors in the pathogenesis of Coxsackie B1 virus-induced murine myositis (CB1-myositis). At 2, 4 and 8 weeks after inoculation, serum was studied for circulating immune complexes (CIC) (Raji-cell assay), haemolytic complement activity (CH50 titre) and anticytoplasmic autoantibodies (Western blotting, immunoprecipitation) in relation to degree of mononuclear cell infiltration and muscle fibre necrosis. At 2, 4 and 8 weeks, cell infiltration correlated positively to muscle fibre necrosis. From 2 weeks on, moderate quantities of CIC were found in nearly all CB1-inoculated mice, but without correlation to histological changes. Except for a positive correlation of CH50 titre to muscle necrosis at 4 weeks (r = 0.60; P = 0.02), CH50 titres did not correlate to muscle lesions. Anticytoplasmic and other known autoantibody specificities were absent. In conclusion, first, in CB1-myositis CIC occurred from 2 weeks on, but no correlative evidence was found for their involvement in pathogenesis, neither for that of complement nor for anticytoplasmic autoantibodies. Secondly, cell infiltration correlated positively to muscle necrosis, underscoring the importance of cellular mechanisms. Thus, our data do not support, or conclusively exclude, a role for humoral processes in CB1-myositis.