Long-term incubation of proteins with glucose leads to the formation of advanced glycation end products (AGE). Recent immunological studies have suggested the potential role of AGE in atherosclerosis, aging, and diabetic complications. We previously prepared a monoclonal (6D12) as well as a polyclonal anti-AGE antibody and proposed the presence of a common AGE structure(s) that may act as a major immunochemical epitope [Horiuchi, S., Araki, N., & Morino, Y. (1991) J. Biol. Chem. 266, 7329-7332]. The purpose of the present study was to determine the major epitope. Amino acid analysis of AGE-proteins indicated that N(epsilon)-(carboxymethyl)lysine (CML) was a major modified lysine residue. Immunologic studies demonstrated the positive reaction of 6D12 not only to all CML-modified proteins tested, but also to BSA modified with several aldehydes known to generate a CML-protein adduct, and a linear correlation between the CML contents of CML-BSA and their immunoreactivity to 6D12 up to approximately 8 mol/mol of protein. Further experiments with CML analogs revealed that the epitope of 6D12 is a CML-protein adduct with an important carbonyl group. In contrast to 6D12, our polyclonal anti-AGE antibody showed a significant but much weaker immunoreactivity to CML-BSA, suggesting that the polyclonal antibody contains two populations, one reactive to CML (CML-PA) and the other unreactive to CML (Non-CML-PA). Non-CML-PA separated from CML-PA by CML-BSA affinity chromatography did not react with all CML-modified preparations, but retained its property to react commonly with AGE preparations obtained from proteins, lysine derivatives, and monoaminocarboxylic acids. Therefore, it is clear that a CML-protein adduct is a major immunological epitope in AGE structures, but there still exist other major epitope(s) expressed commonly in AGE-proteins.