Antimicrosomal antibodies in inflammatory liver diseases all seem to be directed against members of the cytochrome P450 family of proteins. These autoantigens seem to be genetically polymorphic, the autoantibodies are inhibitory, and the autoepitopes are generally conserved among species. Anti-P450 autoantibodies share these characteristics with other autoantibodies, for example, antinuclear antibodies in systemic lupus erythematosus. The identification of P450s as human autoantigens is clinically important. Diagnostic tests will be developed on the basis of cloned antigen, facilitating a better diagnosis of drug-induced and idiopathic autoimmune hepatitis. It is unknown what triggers autoantibody production against cytochrome P450 proteins. Furthermore, their pathogenetic role and thus their involvement in tissue destruction is unclear. In this context LKM1 autoantibodies may serve as a model. Although LKM1 antibodies are inhibitory, all LKM1 antibody-positive patients tested so far are extensive metabolizers for drug metabolism mediated by P450IID6 and express this protein in their livers. Thus, the inhibitory LKM1 autoantibody does not sufficiently penetrate through the intact liver cell membrane to inhibit enzyme function in vivo. Presumably, tissue destruction in autoimmune hepatitis is mediated by liver-infiltrating T lymphocytes. T lymphocytes have been cloned from liver tissue that specifically proliferate in the presence of recombinant cytochrome P450IID6. The construction of overlapping cDNA subclones is also valuable to identify immunodominant B cell as well as relevant T cell epitopes.