Myasthenia gravis (MG) and experimental autoimmune myasthenia gravis (EAMG) are antibody-mediated disorders in which anti-acetylcholine receptor (anti-AChR) antibodies cause loss of muscle AChR and subsequent weakness. Many species are susceptible to induction of EAMG with purified xenogeneic AChR in adjuvant, but injection of Torpedo AChR without adjuvants can also induce evidence of EAMG. To see whether pathogenic autoimmunity could be induced in mice by isolated mouse AChR we injected BALB/c mice with several doses (1 pmole; about 0.1 microgram) of affinity-purified AChR (from the BC3H1 cell line but thought to be identical with denervated mouse muscle) intraperitoneally, without adjuvant, over a period of 10-22 weeks. Some of the mice became ill and died. High levels of serum anti-mouse AChR, directed mainly towards the main immunogenic region, were found and, in the survivors, correlated with loss of muscle AChR. Thus BALB/c mice can mount an autoimmune response to minute amounts of mouse AChR, without the use of adjuvants, and this response is very similar to that found in MG. This novel finding has implications regarding the etiology of the human disease.