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Anti-actin IgA antibodies have been found in sera of coeliacs. Our aim was to define the prevalence and clinical significance of anti-actin IgA in coeliacs before and after gluten withdrawal. One hundred and two biopsy-proven coeliacs, 95 disease controls and 50 blood donors were studied. Anti-actin IgA were evaluated by different methods: (a) antimicrofilament positivity on HEp-2 cells and on cultured fibroblasts by immunofluorescence; (b) anti-actin positivity by enzyme-linked immuosorbent assay (ELISA); and (c) presence of the tubular/glomerular pattern of anti-smooth muscle antibodies on rat kidney sections by immunofluorescence. Antimicrofilament IgA were present in 27% of coeliacs and in none of the controls. Antimicrofilament antibodies were found in 25 of 54 (46%) coeliacs with severe villous atrophy and in three of 48 (6%) with mild damage (P < 0·0001). In the 20 patients tested, antimicrofilaments IgA disappeared after gluten withdrawal in accordance with histological recovery. Our study shows a significant correlation between antimicrofilament IgA and the severity of intestinal damage in untreated coeliacs. The disappearance of antimicrofilament IgA after gluten withdrawal predicts the normalization of intestinal mucosa and could be considered a useful tool in the follow-up of severe coeliac disease.