We studied 33 patients presenting with a peripheral neuropathy associated with non-malignant anti-myelin-associated glycoprotein (MAG) IgM monoclonal gammopathy (MG) in an attempt to delineate their clinical, immunological, electrophysiological and pathological characteristics; we also reviewed our experience concerning long-term follow-up and therapy. Peripheral neuropathy associated with non-malignant anti-MAG IgM MG was observed mostly in males (sex ratio 7.2), and mean age at onset was 67 years (range 46-81). A predominantly sensory pattern was noted in more than 80% of cases, although some patients were affected by a predominantly motor peripheral neuropathy. Although disease progression was slow in most cases, 45% of patients suffered severe disability, and in 2 cases, the patient's death appeared to stem directly from the neuropathy. The electrophysiological findings were indicative of a demyelinating process in 90% of cases, and electron microscopic examination of nerve biopsy specimens demonstrated widening of the myelin lamellae in more than 95% of cases. Most of our patients showed a disappointing response to steroids and chemotherapy or plasma exchanges. Intravenous immune globulin, evaluated in 17 patients, had a transient, mostly subjective effect in 35% and led to a clear-cut improvement in 24% of cases. We did not observe any correlation between the severity of the clinical picture and the anti-sulphoglucuronyl paragloboside antibody titre; in individual cases, clinical improvement occurred without lowering of IgM levels. Although the severity and the rate of progression may greatly vary from patient to patient, the combination of clinical, electrophysiological and pathological features delineates a characteristic pattern in peripheral neuropathy associated with non-malignant anti-MAG IgM MG.