The aim of this study was to provide evidence for the hypothesis that the B cell rich infiltrate concentrated in the adventitia of atherosclerotic abdominal aortic aneurysms is an autoimmune response to specific tissue antigens. Detailed histological examination of biopsies from 26 atherosclerotic abdominal aortic aneurysms showed in the adventitia, the presence of lymphoid follicles in 7/26 (27%) and of plasma cells in all cases. DNA prepared from the outer aneurysm wall (n = 25) was amplified using the polymerase chain reaction to investigate the repertoire of the immunoglobulin heavy chain (VH) genes used. Amplification of the VDJ region of VH, using both framework 2 and 3 primers, revealed unrestricted usage of the VH gene in 24/25 cases. The only case where restricted usage of the VH genes was observed, might have been attributable to severe virally-induced tissue inflammation. These results indicate that, in the vast majority of atherosclerotic abdominal aortic aneurysms, the B cell rich adventitial infiltrates are not an autoimmune response to a limited repertoire of tissue antigens.