Many reactive products may be formed when LDL undergoes lipid peroxidation, which in turn can react with lipids, apoproteins, and proteins, generating immunogenic neoepitopes. Autoantibodies recognizing model epitopes of oxidized low density lipoprotein, such as malondialdehydelysine, occur in plasma and in atherosclerotic lesions of humans and animals. Because apo E-deficient mice develop particularly high titers of such autoantibodies, we used their spleens to clone 13 monoclonal antibodies to various epitopes of oxidized LDL ("E0 antibodies"). Binding and competitive RIAs demonstrated significant differences in fine specificity even between E0 antibodies initially selected for binding to the same screening antigen. For example, some E0 antibodies selected for binding to malondialdehyde-LDL also recognized copper oxidized LDL, acrolein-LDL, or LDL modified by arachidonic or linoleic acid oxidation products. Circulating IgG and IgM autoantibodies binding to copper-oxidized LDL, 4-hydroxynonenal-LDL, acrolein-LDL, and LDL modified with arachidonic or linoleic acid oxidation products were found in apo E-deficient mice, suggesting that the respective antigens are formed in vivo. Epitopes recognized by some of the E0 monoclonal antibodies were also found on human circulating LDL. Each of the E0 monoclonal antibodies immunostained rabbit and human atherosclerotic lesions, and some of them yielded distinct staining patterns in advanced lesions. Together, this suggests that the natural monoclonal antibodies recognize different epitopes of complex structures formed during oxidation of lipoproteins, or epitopes formed independently at different lesion sites. Our data demonstrate that a profound immunological response to a large number of different epitopes of oxidized lipoproteins occurs in vivo. The availability of "natural" monoclonal autoantibodies should facilitate the identification of specific epitopes inducing this response.