Primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) is characterized by the presence of antimitochondrial antibodies (anti-M2), directed against the E2 subunits of the 2-oxo-acid dehydrogenase complexes (2-OADC), chiefly pyruvate dehydrogenase complex (PDC-E2). We present here a detailed study, based on a large panel of normal sera, of the specificity of tests for anti-M2 by immunofluorescence and for anti-PDC by other assays for the diagnosis of PBC. The assays for anti-PDC included immunoblotting with bovine heart mitochondria, ELISA using recombinant PDC-E2 and an enzyme inhibition assay using purified porcine PDC. The positivity rates for normal sera were 0 (0/170), 2 (4/201), 1.5 (3/198) and 0% (0/186) for immunofluorescence, immunoblotting, ELISA and the enzyme inhibition assay, respectively. The seven positive reactions detected either by immunoblotting (n = 4) or ELISA (n = 3) were negative by the other three assays and in no instance did biochemical indices give any indication of chronic liver disease. Thus, as judged by reactivity with normal sera, the specificity of a positive test for the antibody to the major M2 autoantigen (PDC-E2) is 100% for immunofluorescence and the enzyme inhibition assay, 98% for immunoblotting and 98.5% for ELISA.