Abstract It has previously been reported that human C-reactive protein (CRP) can exist in at least two molecular conformations distinguished by antigenic, electrophoretic and ligand-binding reactivities. In the present study we describe the formation, detection and distinctiveness of a conformation expressing a CRP neoantigen (neo-CRP), and report that this form is characteristic in vitro of a free CRP subunit. Soluble native-CRP was found to express neo-CRP antigenicity upon treatment with acid; upon urea-chelation or heating in the absence of calcium; and upon adsorption onto uncoated polystyrene plates. Native-CRP bound by capture ELISA to phosphorylcholine-containing ligand or anti-native-CRP did not express neo-CRP antigenicity, suggesting that PC ligand- or antibody binding is not sufficient to induce expression of the neoantigen. Human CRP which expressed neo-CRP antigenicity had limited solubility and tended to aggregate in buffers of ionic strength 0.15, but remained soluble when the ionic strength was reduced to 0.015. Soluble urea-chelated or acid-treated CRP molecules expressing neo-CRP antigenicity chromatographed and electrophoresed as a single protein with a M r of approx. 22,000, indicating that the CRP neoantigen can be expressed on free CRP subunits and this expression need not require proteolysis. Further, molecules expressing neo-CRP antigenicity were detected in the plasma of patients with rheumatoid arthritis. The identification and characterization of this CRP neoantigen should serve as a useful marker in studies of CRP subunits and biologically relevant forms of CRP, and should contribute to the elucidation of the role of CRP in the acute inflammatory response.