Autoantibodies to aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases are highly associated with myositis and detection is important in clinical diagnosis; however, current methods of screening limit its clinical utility. In the present study, alanyl-tRNA synthetase (PL-12) recombinant protein was obtained by immunological screening of a HeLa expression library and used in an ELISA with 22 anti-PL-12 sera, 200 autoimmune sera negative for PL-12 and 100 healthy individual sera. Sensitivity of the method was 95% (21/22) and specificity 100%. Mapping of the immunoreactive region was carried out using three anti-PL-12 sera and different recombinant protein-derived peptides. Results show that the same conformational epitope located within amino acids 730-951 of the PL-12 antigen outside the catalytic region was recognized by the three anti-PL-12 sera tested. We conclude that ELISA using recombinant protein is an effective and useful method for routine screening for anti-PL-12 autoantibodies.