Extensive complement activation precedes onset of shock in dengue patients and complement "split products" C3a and C5a could be responsible, directly or indirectly, for the increased vascular permeability and disseminated intravascular coagulation which characterises dengue haemorrhagic fever (DHF) dengue shock syndrome (DSS). As IgG subclasses vary in their capacity to activate the classical complement pathway after combining with antigen, we have used an indirect enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) to assess levels of IgG1-4 against each dengue serotype in acute and convalescent sera from patients with disease of varying severity. Acute phase sera from patients with dengue haemorrhagic fever (DHF) or dengue shock syndrome (DSS) contained higher levels of anti-dengue antibodies of the IgG1, complement fixing, subclass than similar sera from dengue fever (DF) patients. Conversely, acute phase sera from DHF and DSS patients contained lower levels of anti-dengue antibodies of the poor complement activating IgG2 subclass than acute phase sera from DF patients. No significant differences were detected between the levels of anti-dengue IgG3 and IgG4 antibody in acute phase sera from DF, DHF, and DSS patients. With the exception of levels of anti-dengue IgG2 antibody from DHF patients which were lower than those from DF and DSS patients, levels of anti-dengue IgG1, IgG2, IgG3, and IgG4 were similar in convalescent sera from all patients. These results provide a possible explanation for the activation of the serum complement system which precedes onset of shock in severe dengue infections.