A microimmunofluorescence test was used to study antibody responses to various spotted fever group and typhus group rickettsiae during Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) and epidemic typhus (ET). Patients with RMSF reacted most strongly to Rickettsia rickettsii; those with ET reacted predominantly to R. prowazekii. The degree of cross-reaction to other rickettsial strains varied from patient to patient, but a particular pattern of cross-reaction was consistently observed in serial sera from the same patient. Fresh isolates from three Montana RMSF cases were indistinguishable from each other and from strain R of R. rickettsii used as a standard antigen in all tests. Immunoglobulin M (IgM) antibodies were usually present in high titer in early-convalescent-phase sera from RMSF, as well as ET, patients. After RMSF, IgM antibodies persisted for a few months and, in one instance, for as long as 10 months. IgM responses to laboratory-acquired infections were infrequent in persons previously vaccinated with antigens related to the infecting strain. Previous antigenic conditioning from infection or vaccination may have accounted partly for the apparent lack of IgM response in a few study participants.