Serum antibodies from 8 (13%) of 62 patients with the acute Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) and 1 of 3 patients with the Miller Fisher syndrome (MFS) recognized a minor ganglioside in bovine and human brain trisialoganglioside fractions. The ganglioside antigen migrated between GD1a and GD1b on thin-layer chromatograms. The structure of this ganglioside was established to be GT1a by thin-layer chromatography blotting and mass spectrometry. GT1a a ganglioside was also detected in human and bovine peripheral nerves by thin-layer chromatogram immunostaining. Serum from the GBS patients had IgM, IgG, or IgA antibodies against GT1a detectable by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Serum from the MFS patient also had elevated levels of IG against GT1a. None of the sera from 43 patients with other neurological diseases or from 24 healthy controls reacted with GT1a. Sera from 6 of 8 GBS patients with anti-Gt1a antibodies also reacted with GQ1b. There was no difference in the incidence of anti-GT1a immunoglobulins in acute GBS patients with or without oculomotor abnormalities. Levels of anti-GT1a antibodies correlated temporally wit clinical symptoms in GBS patients. Although the incidence of dysphagia was slightly higher in GBS patients with anti-GT1a antibodies than in those without, the number of patients studied may have been too small to detect an association between anti-GT1a antibodies and an a specific clinical variant of GBS. Our data demonstrate that a proportion of GBS patients have antibodies against GT1a ganglioside and suggest that these antibodies may play a role in the pathogenesis of neuropathy in GBS.