MAb directed to the thyroid microsomal antigen have been developed. All bound to 101- and 107-kD bands in Western blot analysis using thyroid microsomal fraction as antigen. The MAb also bound to microsomal proteins immunoprecipitated by serum from patients having a high titer of anti-microsomal antibody but no antibodies to thyroglobulin or thyrotropin-stimulating hormone receptor. The pattern of binding was related to the amount of reducing agent. The 101- and 107-kD bands were increased by addition of dithiothreitol whereas, in its absence, numerous bands of higher molecular weight were present, suggesting a multimeric protein structure. Despite the inability to immunoprecipitate thyroid peroxidase (TPO) enzymatic activity, the MAb bound intensively in Western blot to denatured purified hog TPO and to denatured immunopurified human TPO. Trypsin digestion of the 101-107-kD antigen produced a doublet of 84-88 kD that was still immunoreactive with MAb. One of five polyclonal sera tested (with a microsomal antibody titer greater than 1/20,480 measured by the tanned red cell hemagglutination technique) also recognized the 84-88 kD trypsin fragments. Addition of V8 protease led to a disappearance of the 107-kD protein, but not the 101-kD protein, proving that this antigen is formed by two different polypeptides. The MAb bound strongly to thyroid epithelium, whereas binding to papillary carcinoma was absent or low and moderate for follicular and Hurthle cell carcinoma. This study indicates that the thyroid microsomal antigen and TPO are identical and are constituted of two different polypeptides. On SDS-PAGE the antigen appears as two contiguous bands which share common epitopes but are not identical, as proven by their size and difference in susceptibility to proteolytic digestion. The immunoreactivity of the molecule is highly dependent on a trypsin-sensitive site, which appears important in the recognition of the antigen by polyclonal sera and may have biological importance. The expression of microsomal antigenicity is variable among various thyroid carcinomas.