Cicatricial pemphigoid (CP) is an autoimmune blistering disease that primarily affects mucosal tissues. Autoantibodies to laminin-5 have previously been detected in certain patients with a CP-like disease; however, individuals that exhibit this reactivity profile apparently represent a small subset of CP patients. In the present investigation, 0 of 18 CP sera showed reactivity with laminin-5 by immunoblotting. In contrast, 18 of 23 CP sera (78%) recognized a 180-kDa epidermal antigen that, by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, co-migrated with BP180, a hemidesmosomal glycoprotein associated with two other autoimmune blistering diseases, bullous pemphigoid and herpes gestationis. To investigate further the CP autoimmune response, various segments of human BP180 were expressed as bacterial fusion proteins and assayed by immunoblotting for reactivity with CP patients' sera. The results of this investigation demonstrated that the BP180 autoantigen is indeed a major target of CP autoantibodies. Further, two distinct CP-reactive sites were identified on the extracellular domain of the BP180 protein, one located in the non-collagenous (NC) 16A domain (at or near the previously defined autoantibody-reactive site recognized by bullous pemphigoid and herpes gestationis sera) and the other in the carboxy-terminal region of this protein. Sixteen of 23 CP sera (70%) reacted with one or both of these antigenic sites of BP180. Other immunologic data suggested that BP180 may harbor additional CP-reactive sites. In conclusion, there are now three bullous diseases, bullous pemphigoid, herpes gestationis, and cicatricial pemphigoid, that are known to be associated with an autoimmune response against the extracellular domain of the BP180 antigen.