Atherosclerotic lesions contain relatively large quantities of IgG. We have previously shown that both human and rabbit sera contain autoantibodies against epitopes of oxidized (Ox) low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and that LDL isolated from atherosclerotic lesions contains small amounts of tightly bound IgG. However, it is not known whether IgG isolated from atherosclerotic lesions recognizes epitopes present in native LDL or Ox-LDL. IgG was isolated from Watanabe heritable hyperlipidemic (WHHL) rabbit atherosclerotic lesions by sequential salt extractions, purified by fast protein liquid chromatography on protein G, and used in a solid-phase radioimmunoassay. IgG and immune complexes were also isolated from the saline extracts of human lesions by adsorption onto latex beads coated with anti-human IgG antibodies or protein A. IgG isolated from rabbit lesions showed significant titers against malondialdehyde (MDA)-modified LDL and LDL oxidized by copper ions for 4 and 18 hours but not against native LDL. On Western blots, lesion IgG stained MDA-LDL and fragments of Ox-LDL. Western blots of immune complexes isolated from human lesions revealed the presence in the isolated complexes of both apoprotein B and apoprotein B fragments, which reacted with antibodies to MDA-lysine. Furthermore, rabbit lesion IgG immunostained epitopes of Ox-LDL present in human atherosclerotic lesions. Immunostains obtained with rabbit lesion IgG were similar to those obtained with a monoclonal antibody specific for MDA-lysine. The results show that human and rabbit atherosclerotic lesions contain IgG that recognizes epitopes characteristic of Ox-LDL. These data suggest that immunologic processes may be an important component of the atherogenic process.