We have previously reported the existence of a cell-membrane-associated molecule on human PBMC, which binds DNA and has the characteristics of a receptor. Monoclonal antibodies have been made to this receptor and have been used successfully for the purification of this cell-surface molecule. Preliminary studies have indicated a receptor for DNA on murine kidney and spleen cells which is similar in molecular weight to the human DNA receptor (30 kD). The occurrence of autoantibodies to cell-surface receptors has been described in several autoimmune diseases and we have noted that the serum of patients with lupus and similar disorders inhibit the binding of labeled DNA to human leukocytes. Using a "dot-blot" assay with affinity-purified human DNA receptor, sera from patients with various CTD and from healthy volunteers were screened for anti-receptor antibodies; anti-receptor antibodies were found in many patients with CTD and some of their first-degree relatives. The prevalence of anti-receptor antibodies in normal blood donors was less than 2%. It is hypothesized that anti-receptor antibodies represent an early immune response in lupus and kindred disorders and that anti-DNA antibodies may arise from the corresponding anti-idiotypic response.