To examine further the role of immune-complex deposition in infective endocarditis, we studied 29 patients with infective endocarditis for presence of complement-containing circulating immune complexes. Ninety-seven per cent (28 of 29) had serum levels of immune complexes greater than 12 mug per milliliter. Mean levels in these patients were significantly higher than in patients with sepsis without endocarditis or in normal controls (P less than 0.05). Circulating immune-complex levels were correlated with longer duration of illness (P less than 0.025), extravalvular manifestations of endocarditis (P less than 0.025) and hypocomplementemia (P less than 0.05). Patients with right-sided endocarditis had significantly higher circulating immune-complex levels than patients with left-sided involvement (P less than 0.025). In general, levels fell to zero with successful antimicrobial or surgical therapy. This drop was concurrent with disappearance of extravalvular signs, blood cultures becoming sterile, and rise in serum complement levels. These findings support the concept that immune complexes may be important in the pathogenesis of infective endocarditis.