DBA/1 mice develop a chronic peripheral arthritis after immunization with type II collagen termed collagen-induced arthritis. We have localized the main arthritogenic determinants of CB11, a CNBr-generated arthritogenic fragment of chick type II collagen (CII), using 3 smaller peptide fragments of CB11 generated by endoproteinase LysC, LysC1 (CII 124-290), LysC2 (CII 291-374) and LysC3 (CII 375-402) and a panel of monoclonal antibodies (mAb) specific to CB11. MAb specific to the arthritogenic region of CB11 were also used to study the synergistic effect of E. coli lipopolysaccharide (LPS) on antibody-mediated arthritis in naive DBA/1 mice. LysC2 contained a minimum essential arthritogenic fragment of type II collagen: LysC2 induced arthritis by active immunization, also, a combination of four mAb specific to LysC2 passively transferred arthritis to naive mice. A single i.p. injection of LPS (50 micrograms/mouse) reduced the threshold values of the arthritogenic dose of mAb from 1 mg to 50 micrograms/clone per mouse, and decreased the number of mAb required for inducing arthritis from 4 to 2 clones. These observations suggest that LysC2, an 84 amino acid residue fragment, contains the main arthritogenic determinants within chick CB11. Importantly, LPS, a strong inducer of pro-inflammatory cytokines, negates the required multiple epitope specificity of autoantibodies in the passive transfer model and acts synergistically in the induction of arthritis by autoantibody.