To study the nature of antibody-antigen interactions, we have determined the variable gene sequences of the anti-cytochrome c immunoglobulin G1 (IgG1) monoclonal antibody E8, and obtained diffraction-quality crystals of the E8 antigen-binding fragment (Fab), both free and bound to its antigen, horse cytochrome c. The FabE8 crystals belong to space group P21 with unit cell dimensions of a = 45.0 A, b = 85.1 A, c = 63.3 A and beta = 105.5 degrees, have one FabE8 molecule per asymmetric unit and diffract to at least 2.1 A resolution. Crystals of the FabE8-cytochrome c complex belong to space group P212121 with unit cell dimensions of a = 84.3 A, b = 73.3 A and c = 94.9 A, accommodate one complex per asymmetric unit and diffract to 2.4 A resolution. In the nucleotide-derived amino acid sequences, the light-chain variable domain (VL) but not the heavy-chain variable domain (VH) of E8 is nearly identical to that of the anti-lysozyme antibody D1.3, differing by only five amino acid residues. Only one of these interacts with lysozyme in the D1.3-lysozyme crystal structure. Six negative and four positive charges in the VH complementarity determining regions of E8 complement four positive and three negative charges in the E8 epitope on cytochrome c. These data suggest that only a subset of the residues in an antibody-protein interface may be critical for binding and that the VH may play a dominant role in antigenic recognition.