Background Sensitized heart transplant candidates are evaluated for donor-specific anti-HLA IgG antibody (DSA) by Luminex single-antigen bead (SAB) testing (SAB-IgG) to determine donor suitability and help predict a positive complement-dependent cytotoxicity crossmatch (CDC-XM) by virtual crossmatching (VXM). However, SAB testing used for VXM does not correlate perfectly with CDC-XM results and individual transplant programs have center-specific permissible thresholds to predict crossmatch positivity. A novel Luminex SAB-based assay detecting C1q-binding HLA antibodies (SAB-C1q) contributes functional information to SAB testing, but the relationship between SAB strength and complement-binding ability is unclear. Methods In this retrospective study, we identified 15 pediatric and adult heart allograft candidates with calculated panel-reactive antibody (cPRA) >50% by SAB-IgG and compared conventional SAB-IgG results with SAB-C1q testing. Results Pre- and post-transplant DSA by SAB-C1q correlated with DSA by SAB-IgG and also with CDC-XM results and early post-transplant endomyocardial biopsy findings. Individual HLA antibodies by SAB-IgG in undiluted sera correlated poorly with SAB-C1q; however, when sera were diluted 1:16, SAB-IgG results were well correlated with SAB-C1q. In some sera, HLA antibodies with low mean fluorescent intensity (MFI) by SAB-IgG exhibited high SAB-C1q MFIs for the same HLA antigens. Diluting or heat-treating these sera increased SAB-IgG MFI, consistent with SAB-C1q results. In 13 recipients, SAB-C1q–positive DSA was associated with positive CDC-XM and with early clinical post-transplant antibody-mediated rejection (cAMR). Conclusions Risk assessment for positive CDC-XM and early cAMR in sensitized heart allograft recipients are correlated with SAB-C1q reactivity.