When tissue sections are extracted with 0.1 N HCl, cellular nuclear proteins, including histones, are removed but nuclear DNA is retained. Histones can be reconstituted back to nuclear DNA in acid-extracted tissue sections so that the resulting nuclear substrate is composed only of DNA and histones and does not contain acidic nuclear protein antigens. The resulting DNA-histone tissue substrate can be used in the immunofluorescent method for specific detention of antibodies to histones. Sera from 23 patients with drug-induced lupus erythematosus (procainamide 19, isoniazid 2, nitrofurantoin 2) and 20 patients with idiopathic (not drug-induced) systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) were studied. All 23 patients with drug-induced lupus erythematosus (LE) lost nuclear staining on acid-extracted sections. In contrast, only 12 of 20 with idiopathic SLE lost nuclear staining on acid-extracted tissues, and in the remaining 8, there was no significant fall in titer. In the drug-induced LE group, loss of nuclear staining was due to the absence of histones on the substrate because with histone-reconstituted sections, 22 of 23 again became positive for nuclear staining at titers equal to or at one doubling dilution below titers on unextracted tissues. In contrast, of the 12 idiopathic SLE sera which lost nuclear staining, only 5 regained nuclear staining on histone-reconstituted tissue sections. In idiopathic SLE, antinuclear antibodies are heterogeneous in specificities and may consist of antibodies to native DNA, histones, or nonhistone proteins. In contrast, antinuclear antibodies in drug-induced LE are less heterogeneous and mainly consist of antibodies to histones.