Patients with multifocal motor neuropathy frequently have elevated titers of serum antibodies reactive with GM1 ganglioside. Although these antibodies may cause the syndrome, this has yet to be proven directly. As part of our studies on the nature and pathogenic potential of anti-GM1 antibodies, we have cloned B cells from the peripheral blood of 3 patients with multifocal motor neuropathy and generated four stable heterohybridoma cell lines secreting human monoclonal IgM anti-GM1 antibodies. In this report we describe the basic properties of these monoclonal antibodies in comparison with the patient's sera from which they were derived. The antibodies all differ in their pattern of reactivity with GM1 and other Gal(beta 1-3)GalNAc-containing glycoconjugates. They have widely varying thermal ranges and their reactivities are strongly influenced by the presence of accessory lipids. Affinity purification of the patient's sera with GM1 led to the identification of previously unrecognized paraproteins that were resolvable above the background of polyclonal anti-GM1 IgM. Our data demonstrate considerable heterogeneity in the immune response to GM1 both within individual sera and between different patients, which is likely to be of importance to their role in disease pathogenesis.