Intraneural injection of sera from rabbits with experimental allergic encephalomyelitis, induced by sensitization with bovine brain white matter in complete Freund's adjuvant, Produced focal primary demyelinative lesions in rat sciatic nerves. Demyelinating activity was removed by prior incubation of antisera with central (CNS) and peripheral nervous system (PNS) myelin but not with liver or kidney, and was heat-labile and complement-dependent. Recipient animals developed a sensorimotor disturbance of their toes and ankles on the side injected with antiserum. Twenty minutes after antiserum injection, Schwann cells showed focal cytoplasmic outpouching and their external mesaxons opened. Between 1 and 8 hours after injection vacuolation, splitting and vesiculation of myelin became increasingly prominent at Schmidt-Lanterman clefts and paranodal regions, with concomitant degenerative changes in Schwann cell cytoplasm. Polymorphonuclear cell infiltration and endoneurial edema were apparent at this time. Substantial demyelination occurred before the appearance of phagocytic cells. Between 8 hours and 3 days many nerve fibers were surrounded and attacked by invading macrophages. Axons became demyelinated progressively over several internodes by macrophage phagocytosis. Early signs of remyelination were observed by 5 days. These findings suggest that antibodies directed against antigens common to both CNS and PNS myelin can produce in vivo peripheral nerve demyelination.