Polymyositis and dermatomyositis are characterized by the production of a series of autoantibodies to various cellular constituents. Some of these autoantibodies are found specifically in patients with polymyositis or dermatomyositis or myositis overlap syndrome and predict clinical subgroups and prognosis. If we are to understand the etiology and pathogenic mechanisms of polymyositis and dermatomyositis, it will be particularly important to elucidate the structure and function of target autoantigens recognized by these myositis-specific autoantibodies. In recent years, many autoantigens and some epitopes have been identified using molecular biology approaches. During the 1-year period reviewed here, the nature and function of the Mi-2 and the Ku(p70/p80) antigens which are recognized by autoantibodies in patients with dermatomyositis and with the myositis overlap syndrome, respectively, have been elucidated. Several new autoantibodies that are not specific for but that are associated with myositis have also been described.