Autoantibodies to components of the nucleolus are a unique serological feature of patients with scleroderma. There are autoantibodies of several specificities; one type produces a speckled pattern of nucleolar staining in immunofluorescence. In actinomycin D and 5,6-dichloro-beta-D-ribofuranosylbenzimidazole-treated Vero cells, staining was restricted to the fibrillar and not the granular regions. By double immunofluorescence, specific rabbit anti-RNA polymerase I antibodies stained the same fibrillar structures in drug-segregated nucleoli as scleroderma sera. Scleroderma sera immunoprecipitated 13 polypeptides from [35S]methionine-labeled HeLa cell extract with molecular weights ranging from 210,000 to 14,000. Similar polypeptides were precipitated by rabbit anti-RNA polymerase I antibodies, and their common identities were confirmed in immunoabsorption experiments. Microinjection of purified IgG from a patient with speckled nucleolar staining effectively inhibited ribosomal RNA transcription. Autoantibodies to RNA polymerase I were restricted to certain patients with scleroderma and were not found in other autoimmune diseases.