To determine the extent of clonal involvement of the secretory immune system and the origin of salivary immunoglobulins (Ig) in monoclonal gammopathy patients, saliva and serum samples were collected from five affected individuals (two IgA myelomas, one IgG myeloma, one IgG benign monoclonal gammopathy, and one IgM lymphoma) and were assayed for the presence of monoclonal Ig. Purified polyclonal or monoclonal anti-idiotype (Id) antibodies were prepared against each of the isolated serum paraproteins. In all five individuals, the patient saliva samples inhibited the binding of 125I-labeled homologous Ig to the corresponding anti-Id antibodies, but normal saliva did not. The concentration of Id in patients' saliva varied from 1 to 400 μg/ml; i.e., 0.004 to 1.0% of the corresponding serum values. Saliva of a lymphoma patient whose IgM(κ) protein exhibited rheumatoid factor (RF) activity also contained RF. The salivary Id-bearing molecules were found to have the same Ig isotype as the serum paraproteins. The myeloma IgA represented a minor component (0.4 and 3.9%) of the total salivary IgA. The salivary IgA myeloma proteins were associated at least in part with secretory component, but the salivary IgG paraproteins were not. In an IgA myeloma patient, a minority (17%) of the IgA+ plasma cells found in the lacrymal gland biopsy specimen were Id+, whereas the great majority (98%) of bone marrow IgA plasma cells were Id+. The results suggest active transport rather than passive transudation of myeloma IgA into the patients' saliva, and the integrity of the secretory immune system was not compromised by the neoplastic process.