Anticentromere antibodies identified by indirect immunofluorescence are a valuable aid to the diagnosis and prognosis of patients with systemic sclerosis since they are associated in 50% to 80% of cases with limited cutaneous systemic sclerosis, a pattern usually associated with a good prognosis. We studied clinical presentations in rheumatology patients with anticentromere antibodies by indirect immunofluoresence and by ELISA and/or Western blot, but without scleroderma or Raynaud's phenomenon. Eight of 34 (23.5%) rheumatology clinic patients with centromere antibodies met these criteria, seven women and one man, with a median symptom duration of six years (range 1-20 years). Four had Sjögren's syndrome, one had isolated xerostomia, one systemic lupus erythematosus, one seronegative symmetric polyarthritis and one primary biliary cirrhosis with arthralgia. The mean anticentromere antibody titer in these eight patients was similar to that in the patients who had at least Raynaud's phenomenon. Given the low incidence of scleroderma, these data illustrate the poor predictive value of anticentromere antibodies for the diagnosis of scleroderma in rheumatology clinic patients.