The incidences of clinical and biological markers of atopy were investigated in 16 children with IgA nephropathy (IgAN) (group A) and in 22 with Henoch-Schönlein purpura nephritis (HSPN) (group B). The incidence of increased plasma IgE levels according to age-matched normal values was significantly higher in group B (17/22, 77%) than in group A (7/16, 44%) (P < 0.05). Although not significant, the incidences of positive RAST tests and of a history of typical atopic symptoms were also higher in group B [10/22 (45%) and 11/22 (50%), respectively] than in group A [4/16 (25%) and 5/16 (31%), respectively]. Moreover, IgE deposits were demonstrated by a peroxidase/anti-peroxidase method on cutaneous Langerhans and mast cells in 4 of 6 patients with HSPN. Thus immunoallergy might account, in some cases, for the cutaneous, intestinal and pulmonary signs observed in HSPN, but not in IgAN. We postulate stimulation of IgE-sensitized mast cells by specific antigens in the presence of IgA circulating immune complexes (CIC), release of vasoactive substances, increased capillary permeability and perivascular deposition of IgA CIC.