A subset of patients (50%) with neuroborreliosis (Lyme disease) showed IgG reactivity to cardiolipin in solid phase ELISA. In addition, a subset of patients with neuroborreliosis (29%) and syphilis (59%) had IgM reactivity to gangliosides with a Gal(beta 1-3) GalNac terminal sequence (GM1, GD1b, and asialo GM1). Anti-ganglioside IgM antibodies were significantly more frequent in these two groups of patients compared to patients with cutaneous and articular Lyme disease, primary antiphospholipid syndrome, systemic lupus erythematosus and normal controls. Correlative evidence and adsorption experiments indicated that antibodies to cardiolipin had separate specificities from those directed against the gangliosides. IgM antibodies to Gal(beta 1-3) GalNac gangliosides appeared to have similar specificities since these were positively correlated and inhibitable by cross adsorption assays. Given the clinical associations of patients with neuroborreliosis and syphilis with IgM reactivity to gangliosides sharing the Gal(beta 1-3) GalNac terminus, we suggest that these antibodies could represent a response to injury in neurological disease or a cross reactive event caused by spirochetes.