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A loss of humoral tolerance is a hallmark of many autoimmune diseases and the detection of self-reactive antibodies (autoantibodies) of the immunoglobulin G (IgG) isotype is widely used as a biomarker and diagnostic tool. However, autoantibodies might also be present in individuals without autoimmune disease, thus limiting their usefulness as a sole indicator of disease development. Moreover, while clear evidence exists of the pathogenic effects of autoantibodies in mouse model systems, the contribution of autoantibodies to the pathology of many autoimmune diseases has yet to be established. In this Review, the authors discuss the changes in total serum IgG and autoantibody glycosylation that occur during autoimmune disease and how these changes might help to predict disease development in the future. Furthermore, current knowledge of the signals regulating antibody glycosylation and how individual antibody glycoforms could be used to optimize current treatment approaches will be discussed.