Background: The nephrotoxic potential of anti-glomerular-basement-membrane (GBM) antibodies has been demonstrated in numerous animal experiments. However, it is not known to what extent the properties of circulating anti-GBM antibodies in human disease reflect the severity of the disease and predict the outcome. Methods: Clinical data were collected for 79 Swedish patients for whom a positive result had previously been obtained with anti-GBM ELISA. In stored sera from the patients, we measured antibody concentration, specificity and affinity together with antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies and α<sub>1</sub>-antitrypsin phenotype. Results: Six months after diagnosis, 27 (34%) were dead, 32 (41%) were on dialysis treatment and only 20 (25%) were alive with a functioning native kidney. The best predictor for renal survival was renal function at diagnosis. In patients who were not dialysis dependent at diagnosis however, renal survival was associated with a lower concentration of anti-GBM antibodies, a lower proportion of antibodies specific for the immunodominant epitope and the histological severity of the renal lesion. The only factor that correlated with patient survival was age. Conclusions: Immunochemical properties of autoantibodies do not affect patient survival in anti-GBM disease but seem to be a factor in renal survival in patients detected before renal damage is too advanced.