The response of 15 strongly bee-venom-allergic patients to highly purified venom allergens was compared using skin prick test titration, peripheral blood leukocyte (PBL) histamine release and radioallergosorbent test with three highly purified bee venom allergens: phospholipase (PLA2), hyaluronidase (HYAL) and acid phosphatase (ACID P). Sensitivity to the three allergens ranked in the same order for all three tests and in each case PLA2 was found to the most potent allergen. In the presence of hyperimmune beekeeper plasma, maximum histamine release was reduced significantly for all three allergens (p less than 0.001). Furthermore, hyperimmune beekeeper plasma increased the amount of allergen required for a comparable release of histamine (mean shift in dilution curve PLA2 917-fold; HYAL, 492-fold; ACID P, 61-fold). The release of histamine from whole blood was also compared with PBL + 10% normal human serum (NHS). For all three allergens maximum release was much lower from whole blood compared with washed cells + 10% NHS (p less than 0.001). These data confirm PLA2 as the major bee venom allergen by all three tests. Hyperimmune beekeeper plasma reduces maximum histamine release and increases its threshold. Histamine release in response to ACID P appears harder to block with hyperimmune beekeeper plasma than that provoked by PLA2 or HYAL (p less than 0.01). Whole blood releases less histamine and requires more allergen than washed cells, indicating that sensitivity of PBL in vivo is unlikely to be as great as washed PBL in vitro.