Antibodies were generated against the positively charged chair-like glycosidase inhibitor nojirimycin by in vitro immunization. A number of catalytic antibodies were isolated, one of which catalyzes the hydrolysis of p-nitrophenyl beta-D-glucopyranoside 3 with a rate enhancement (kcat/kuncat) of 10(5) M over the HOAC-catalyzed reaction. The antibody discriminates modifications in the pyranoside ring of substrate 3 at the C2, C4, and the anomeric positions. The pH dependence of the reaction and chemical modification studies suggest the presence of an active-site Asp or Glu residue that may function as a general acid. This study further defines those requirements necessary to generate antibodies that efficiently cleave glycosidic bonds.